Monday, March 4, 2013

Special radio channel for children

Special radio channel for children
by Nihal P. Abeysinghe
It was an amazing sight. Stilt-walkers about 10-12 feet tall were walking along Independence Avenue, Colombo 7. Beside them, there were little nilames dressed in full regalia and a few drummers. Following them closely was a perahera with up country and low country dancers.
What was this and where were they headed? The children's perahera was organised in connection with the launch of Vidula, the first dedicated radio channel for children, which took place on March 28. It was making its way to the Independence Square from the Viharamahadevi Park.
After the perahera arrived at its destination, Vidula was launched by the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC), heralding the freedom granted to the creative spirit of all the children in the island.
Vidula was launched by President Mahinda Rajapakse, under the initiative of the National Year for Children. It will be carried out under the supervision of Media Minister, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, and SLBC Chairman, Sunil Sarath Perera.
Vidula got under way with the 'Rajadani Tharanaya' launched beside the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi on March 15. This was a marathon, comprising students taking turns between Anuradhapura and Colombo to deliver a special message to the President.
Children from all parts of the country, from areas like Matara, Anuradhapura, Puttalam and Ragama got the opportunity to get on stage and sing, dance, present dramas and display other talents for the whole country to hear. This laid the foundation for Vidula's objective; to provide a stage for children from all corners of the country, to display their talents.
Some of the experiences that the children were able to witness were, how to make konda kavum and kitul jaggery, how a newspaper comes off the press, how to bring up a plant properly and making paper bags at home. Some of these experiences proved to be useful not only for children, but for adults as well.
A novel experience for most of the children was a low-flying helicopter, which extended its greetings to the newly launched radio channel.
A show presented by police dogs was going on at the main stage, after which the drama 'Nari Bena' was staged. The event came to a close with the children's movie 'Handaya' being screened, but not before all participating children had been presented with certificates.
Meanwhile, at the SLBC headquarters, children were conducting the programmes with support from professional announcers.
It is the view of most critics that there are hardly any children's programmes in modern radio, and that even the existing programmes are of a low standard. Although local children are vastly talented, the opportunity to display their talents through the media, especially for rural children, is limited. Only the SLBC has offered such programmes and the children who emerged through them are today professional artists of repute.
Vidula will be broadcast through the frequencies FM 102.6 from Colombo and 86.7 from Udaradella, from 5.30am to 10.00pm.


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