Plays, dances, music, poetry and prose have featured since the earliest days of the Children’s Centre. The Children’s Festival mounted to celebrate the International Year of the Child in 1979 included an exhibition of children’s art, poetry and self-made toys and a talent night of drama, dancing and musical performances.
The Children's Centre Theatre introduced in 1985 culminated in the performance of Mushrooms in the Desert by Esiaba Irobi and Vulture! Vulture! by Efua Sutherland during Alumni Day of the University’s 20th Anniversary Convocation Week in November, 1986, followed by a command performance in January, 1987. This has been followed by a number of other theatrical performances developed during vacation programme creative activities.
The Children’s Week of 1989 included a poetry, song and essay competition. In a similar vein, the Creative Club initiated by the Youth Corpers in 1993 and continued in subsequent years prepared dramatic works, dances, and songs, including the Children’s Centre Anthem. Creative writing took up such themes as “How can children make their parents happy?” and “How can children make Nigeria a better place?” (Newsletter No. 3) and “My Ideal Family” (Newsletter No. 6). Creative activities have continued to feature prominently in long vacation activities down to the present.
Sports were included in the vacation programme as early as 1984, with instruction in yoga, gymnastics and ball games. Junior Soccer League was introduced in 1985 and Kung Fu became a regular feature from 1988. The Centre later introduced table tennis, badminton and basketball. Climbing gyms were relocated from the old to the new playground site to encourage active outdoor play. A recurring theme has been the need to develop playing fields and playground equipment for full utilization of sports.
This development received a major boost with opening of the Chukwudi Tobenna Douglas Azikiwe children's football field, donated by Prof. Uche Azikiwe in memory of her grandson, in 2006. The field is highly patronized by both children and adults. UWA Patrons Mrs. Ify Nebo and Barr. (Mrs.) Nwanneka Okolo have worked very hard toward realization of our long-held dream of a multi-purpose asphalt court. In September 2010 Barr. (Mrs.) Okolo promised to develop such a court for basketball, tennis and other games as part of her personal donation to the Children's Centre. Most recently, the 50th anniversary celebration of Nigeria and the University in October 2010 included a gala football match between the newly formed Children's Centre Cubs and Umeano Shining Stars.
Activities Program (ERAP)
In ERAP children and adults met on Sunday afternoons to consider religious questions and concerns. Among the areas explored have been personal values and identity, human beings in creation, the ministry of Jesus, the meaning of Christmas and Easter, and religious faith as the basis for social action.
The Youth Conservation Club, made up of students from the primary and secondary staff schools, was initiated in the 1993/94 session. The club celebrated World Environmental Day and undertook a refuse disposal and recycling project, whereby containers for sorting waste were distributed to participating households and collected weekly for compost, recycling or disposal.
Caring for Others
This program of visits to the Motherless Babies Home was introduced to encourage social awareness and concern for others. The visits began in 1986 as a long vacation activity and have continued through the years, sometimes during the vacation program and sometimes as a year round activity. Children visit the Home to care for the babies, holding them and playing with them. The response of the babies was so great that the program was expanded into the Motherless Babies Project.