Diwan bookstore earned its status as one of the most diverse cultural venues in Cairo by branching out to include activities and events no other bookstore managed to introduce before. The latest addition to their line of events is a summer-long kids workshop that they host three times a week. For the duration of the summer, this workshop invites children to integrate arts into their daily activities.
Taking place in the Heliopolis branch of the famous bookstore franchise and offered by an organization called Kids’ Workshops, the worskhop (now in its second month) has 11 kids attending an hour-long arts session with professional teachers and assistants.
Ganice Alwan, Diwan branch manager, explains that, “although the Maadi branch of Diwan has been doing a creative writing workshop for older children, Diwan Heliopolis is the first to host a full on children’s workshop in its store.” The workshop welcomes children between the age of 3-5 and includes activities that vary between art, craft and drama sequences.
These sessions started in Diwan earlier this summer to a successful outcome. According to Alwan, most of the parents who registered their children for the month of June were happy with the results and registered them for the month of July. The workshop runs up until the end of August and all of the classes start at 11AM and last for a little over one hour.
“Parents can enjoy our cafeteria while their children attend the different activities of the workshop,” says Alwan with a smile. The parents can borrow one of the books from the various stands of the Diwan collection and enjoy an hour of calm reading while their children interact with other children in engaging and creative activities.
The July workshop has already begun in two sequences, Sun/Tues/Thurs and Sat/Mon/Wed with fees that cover from 4-29 July and the 3-28 July respectively. All the activities and interactions with the tutor are in simplified English to include some language training into the fun hour.
“These activities take place all year round,” says Ms. Nazik, one of the specialists working in the project. “We offered them in the afternoons and weekends in Diwan Heliopolis bookstore last winter and we are planning to extend our circle of venues for next season.”
Diwan is not the only venue hosting workshops offered by Kids’ Workshops–this session is part of a series of events offered by a group of specialists who came together with the effort of Dr. Nardine Atrossi, a professor in the faculty of art in Ain Shams University.
“I started this project five years ago,” says Dr. Atrossi, “but it became active with the children two and half years ago. We started offering our workshops in Diwan and other venues last summer.” Other venues where such workshops take place are Alef Bookstore, Heliopolis Club, Rehab Club and a small venue on the North Coast as well.
What is striking about these workshops is the way the child can take control over what he/she cares about. With a variation of 3 different major workshops that concentrate solely on arts, science or drama, the children are allowed to pick whichever subject interests them the most. This edu-tainment style of teaching helps the children develop their own creative side and brush up on their talents in a fun and smart way.
“We refuse to enforce a workshop on the child. We let them judge by their talent and pick their own line of interest,” says Dr. Nardine, “We help the children by teaching them skills that are lacking in the educational system in Egypt, even in the international schools educational system.” According to Dr. Atrossi, science experiments, for example, are not offered in any educational system in Egypt. The Kids’ Workshop organization is one of the first projects to bring the concept to Egypt and puts it in the hands of children.
The project, which started as pure voluntary work done by a group of specialists who gave time and effort to children and helped them reach their limits, moved on to offer five different workshops with a variety of children activities. “We are planning to extend the number of workshops to reach ten programs tailored to different groups of children,” says Dr. Nardine. “We are hoping to have our own venue with indoor and outdoor areas to accommodate our needs as well.”
Finally, Kids’ Workshop not only offers activities for children, but also job opportunities for college students and fresh graduates. According to Dr. Atrossi, most of the crew helping the children in their activities are in their early twenties. Some of them are still students at the American University in Cairo, Ain Shams University or Cairo University.
“We also have summer jobs for the young teenagers who attended our workshops two or three years ago,” says Dr. Atrossi proudly. “Among my staff there are two or three 14-year-olds who assist the experts in their work. It’s their project as well now. I started the project years ago, but with the help of these youngsters we are continuing the circle.”
You can find more information about the organization by checking their Facebook group (Kids’ Workshop) or calling the management at 011-008-9630.