When The Swings Halt

The New Indian Express Chennai|June 02, 2020

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When The Swings Halt
Jhoola Activity Centre’s founder Deepika Arun talks about swinging between the highs and lows of life during these pandemic-induced times
Roshne Balasubramanian

A plethora of traditional games — from Aadu Puliyaatam, Ashta Chamma, Kattam Vilayattu, Pallanguzhi, to Chau pad — all neatly arranged on a wooden rack; mini seashells and several pairs of dice scattered on the floor, and the giggles of five tiny tots filling a sunlight-suffused room. Four years ago, when we visited Jhoola — an activity centre in Naganallur — we were in for a surprise. Unlike several run-of-the-mill after-school activity centres, Jhoola had a mission beyond simply engaging children. “The idea is to promote a gadget-free childhood while enabling kids to develop social and life skills — all in an unstructured way,” said an enthusiastic Deepika Arun, the brain behind the one-of-a-kind activity centre. What started as a humble homerun centre in 2015 with just five children soon grew leaps and bounds. From a spike in enrolment to moving into a bigger spruced up space in the same neighbourhood — with a book corner, a game room with both modern and traditional games and space for children to unleash their artistic potentials — Jhoola was being recognised by parents across the city for its novel approach in teaching children life skills. Cut to 2020, Jhoola has closed its doors due to the pandemic. Albeit temporary, a strong stand by its founder — to not shift the centre’s activities online and thereby not tainting the principles of Jhoola — has garnered the respect and admiration of parents and other patrons alike.

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June 02, 2020