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Cookery classes have been a very popular activity, with attention to both Nigerian and international dishes. Reflecting the diversity of the University community, the 1986 program produced a recipe book, which was expanded and reprinted in 2003 for the 25th Anniversary. In recent cookery classes children have learned to prepare cake, meat pie and fish roll.
Art helps children develop in imagination, creativity and self-expression. During vacation programs children have learned to create hand puppets and marionettes, fabric and paper collage, tie-dye, batik, papiermache, macrame, quilts, prints, poster making, hat making, and needlecraft.
A number of Children’s Centre activities have focused on science and practical skills for everyday life. Children develop information skills and learn to enjoy science through games and simple experiments, as well as excursions to places such as the space center. Other activities emphasize practical skills such as repairing an electric plug or bicycle tire. Other areas of interest include health education and first aid, car maintenance, safety, and computer skills
This ever-popular vacation activity helps extend the experience of children and gives them the excitement of seeing new things. Excursions may begin close to home, with visits to the zoo, vet farm, archaeology museum, or computing centre. With the bus, excursions could be extended to the town or more distant places— Orba market, the ironworks at Lejja, an aluminum factory, cashew plantation, Ada rice, the Coca-cola bottling company.
Children have traveled to the state capital at Enugu to visit the airport, media houses, the National Museum, a coal mine, or the house of assembly, and to Umuahia to visit the National War Museum. Whether near or far, excursions offer the excitement of an outing and are a most popular vacation activity.
Activities for children 3 – 8 years enable children to learn through a variety of activities, such as storytelling, drama, art, crafts and games.
Drama, dance, music, and creative writing have featured since the earliest days of the Children’s Centre. Dramas, often written by the children, feature at end-of-program shows and special events like Children’s Day. The focus is on timely themes in the society, such as kidnapping (with the distraught mother shown here), financial crimes, and fake religion.
Creative writing has featured prominently, a recent emphasis being on developing literacy and information skills through creating comic books, writing pocketbook biographies, and making bookmarks.
The Children’s Centre concept has included services to the youth of the community since the International Youth Year Workshop on Youth and the Family held in 1985. Activities have included discussions of psychological, socio-cultural and health issues.
This program of visits to the Motherless Babies Home was introduced to encourage social awareness and concern for others. 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
Children’s Day at the end of May is celebrated with special events such as a football match between the Children’s Centre Cubs and a nearby team.
An especially notable occasion on May 30, 2009 brought together a multitude of children from 15 primary schools and friends and well-wishers from the community and beyond. The theme of the celebration was: The Nigerian Child in the Next Ten Years. Schoolchildren presented cultural dances, drama, miming, essays, poems and creative arts to the enthusiastic assembly. They also competed in a quiz organized by the student organization AIESEC. Other highlights were the appearance of Mickey Mouse to dance with the children and presentation of prizes.
Every Christmas the wife of the Vice-Chancellor and patron of UWA hosts a party for campus children, often held at the Children’s Centre. These parties feature songs, drama, dancing and presents from Father Christmas.
Children’s Centre celebrates occasions such as Nigerian Independence Day October 1st, World Book Day, International Literacy Day, Earth Day and International School Library Month in October. For instance, Independence Day 2015 was celebrated with an interactive talk by Prof. Onwuka Njoku of Nigerian Independence: Lost and Regained. In 2016 this was transformed into a drama. World Book Day 2017 was marked by visits to schools to share reading promotion activities.
April 2006 saw the mounting of the first ever Easter vacation program, with 126 children registering for two weeks of computer training, dance, drama, excursions, art activities, debate and creative writing, sports and a picnic. The program was organized by Goodhead Uchendu, a university student, with assistance from his friends, librarian Margaret Ngwuchukwu, members of the Children’s Centre Committee, and staff of the Department of Library and Information Science. The grand finale was a performance for parents. Another highly successful program was organized in 2007
Children enjoyed a 2010 holiday program full of activities tailored for various age groups. One hundred and forty-nine children aged 1 to 15 years participated in this year’s program, with 61 in the younger age groups registering for N500 and 88 in the older age groups registering for N800. The program was organized by a committee comprising of Margaret Ngwuchukwu, Harry of AIESEC and Elizabeth Babarinde, ably supported by committee Vice-Chair Terri Emezi and assisted by AIESEC members and staff of the Department of Library and Information Science as resource persons.
Activities for younger children (1-3 and 4-6 years) included play and story hour, art, and a variety of pre-reading and mathematical skills. Young people in the older age groups (7-9 and 10-15 years) engaged in a variety of crafts such as soap making, soya milk making, crocheting and beadwork, computer training, cookery, life skills in health, science and technology, sports and personal development. Children also visited local places of interest such as the zoo, space center and surrounding hills, Lion water, and motherless babies home. Our thanks to all those who helped provide a most successful program
Children of the university community celebrated the joint 50th Anniversary of the nation and the University on October 8-9, 2010 with a party and football match. A party for over 3,000 children was organized by the University Women’s Association under the leadership of UWA Patron, Barr. (Mrs.) Nwanneka Okolo. Held at the stadium, the party featured songs and recitation by the Children’s Centre singing group, traditional dances by Model I and Agu Achara primary schools, and entertainment by super hero and cartoon characters. The party climaxed with all the children joining their mothers and other guests in a joyous circle dance. The second day featured a football match between the newly-formed Children’s Centre Cubs and Shining Stars of Umeano Quarters.
An innovation at the library is the reading/football club organized by Ngozi Osadebe. Members of the Cubs football (soccer) team also meet once a month to discuss a selected book. Recent titles read include two on the theme of bullying: a South African novel about bullying on social media (Bongani’s Secret by Gayle Smith) and a Nigerian novel on bullying based on appearance (Nwogo the Witch, by Cheryl Ann Obele)l. The club has held recent football matches with Uhere Study Centre, Ama-Ogbo, Alor Ulo and the University of Nigeria Secondary School. This initiative for encouraging adolescent reading was reported in Ngozi Osadebe’s article in the Journal of Library Innovation 2013 issue found at www.libraryinnovation.org/article/view/215
Over 100 children are participating in the 2013 long vacation programme, which features a workshop on creating comic books. This innovation is directed by Obi Emejulu, a professor of language arts and communication on sabbatical with the Department of Library and Information Science.