National Bal Bhavan: fostering talent along with learning

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A pioneering children’s institution since 1956, National Bal Bhavan (NBB) has provided children with knowledge, space to expand their creativity and lot of fond memories. If it’s been years, since you last visited NBB, do plan a visit soon as it is all revamped and vibrantly decorated – a sheer delight for kids. Here, Smita Dwivedi in conversation with Shalu Jindal, chairperson, NBB brings an update about this institution which is coming back to limelight with its regained vibrancy. National Bal Bhavan (NBB) offers a barrier-free environment with immense possibilities of innovation, minus any stress or strain. Located at Kotla Road, near I.T.O., New Delhi, it caters to children between the age group of 5 to 16 years. An autonomous body under the ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD), it aims at enhancing the creative potential of children by providing them various activities, opportunities and common platform to interact, experiment, create and perform according to their age, aptitude and ability. “Most of the children who attend National Bal Bhavan are from the underprivileged sections who usually do not have the same opportunities as children from privileged sections. Thus, it’s important to provide good facilities to them,” told Shalu Jindal, chairperson, NBB.

Books…best friends till eternity!

Shalu JindalOn asking about the role of books in today’s kids’ life, she explained, “Books are going to be with us till eternity. And I feel they are very important in kids’ life. As a kid I used to read ‘Champak’ a lot and it was my favorite and just recently, I saw it again and I was so happy to see it and read it after so many years. I feel books are best legacy that we can pass to next generation.”

This is why; renovating library at NBB is one of her prime motive. The current library covers two floors and has books on a variety of subjects and it also houses a children’s interactive library section for young children. The library is however in an urgent need of repair with many of its window panes are broken and re-wiring required. “I am planning an overall renovation of the library with its infrastructural development, new books for children (development, learning, education, fiction etc), installation of JSTOR (digital library of academic journals, books, and primary sources) and other academic online journals. The children section is to be redesigned keeping in mind the health and safety of the younger children with interactive books based on the 5 senses – touch, sight, smell, hearing, taste and audio books,” she shared.

Summer specials…

During summer holidays, NBB is a real happening place, buzzing with all sorts of kids activities. “During the one and half months of summer vacation, it is bursting with children with approximately 3000 children attending on a daily basis. During the summer break, various activities are set up so that the children can participate intensively in extracurricular activities. The objective is to enhance the learning and nurture the talents of the children,” she added.

Enhancing creativity…

Akkar Bakkar and Akkar Bakkar Times are the publications of NBB which can claim credit for conducting the first ever experiment, in which a children’s booklet is completely produced by the children. The articles are written by children and the graphics too are made by them. There is a children’s editorial board, which selects the articles and edits them, selects photographs, graphics and cover page.

Future plans…

“As a mother and person with a global perspective I believe that children’s development and enrichment should be the foundation of our society. And therefore my mission, as the chairperson of NBB, is to add further value to the activities and opportunities already provided here and to turn it into a state-of-the-art children’s institution which is then emulated across the country. And I am doing so to follow the legacy of my Padma Shri Awardee predecessors. I want it to be the benchmark in the country for children’s institutions which is dynamic and in touch with the realities of today and providing children with opportunities to equip them for their future,” concluded Shalu enthusiastically.

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