Art in your inbox

Updated: Apr 29, 2020, 10:03 IST | Sukanya Datta | Mumbai

From puppetry to storytelling, an NGO is keeping kids engaged by sending them activities and resources through WhatsApp

Puppets made by children from Haryana
Puppets made by children from Haryana

From science classes on Zoom to online gaming, the lockdown has opened up a range of digital activities for children. However, a large section of kids who do not have access to high-speed Internet, social media or laptops have been missing out on such activities. How does one keep them engaged?

This thought led New Delhi-based NGO Slam Out Loud to tie up with broadcasting service Tamuku Alerts to create a WhatsApp channel of free arts-based resources. "We realised a lot of kids coming from low-income families do not have [educational] resources to fall back on. Moreover, resources shared by educational organisations tend to be restricted to math, science, etc. Since 75 per cent of the children we work with have access to WhatsApp for at least an hour a day, we decided to use this as our channel," says Jigyasa Labroo, co-founder of the NGO.

Jigyasa Labroo
Jigyasa Labroo

The idea is to focus on the mental well-being and creative outcome of kids, she adds. So anyone who signs up — which involves adding the Tamuku Alerts number [+91-7619579103] and submitting a subscription form — gets one activity a day in Hindi or English. "The activities are centred on theatre, storytelling, visual arts, etc. For instance, today's activity requires children to ask one family member about what's most precious to them. We try to go beyond engaging kids, and instead create experiences. Once they are done with this activity, they will think about what or who is precious to them," Labroo shares. Other activities included object tracing, composing cinquain (un-rhymed) poems and puppet-making, each coming with a set of detailed instructions.

The NGO has also been hosting interactive Facebook live sessions with artistes once a week. "The Gujarat government's education department has also been sending out our resources to kids. We have over 600 subscribers from urban and rural families and plan to expand the service in Marathi and Punjabi," Labroo adds.

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