By Lina Al Faris
Local Storytelling Program Shapes Future Storytellers.
“Mom, is this heaven?” Asked a child visiting Kan Yama for the first time, instantly making the question a cherished moment that the team remembers and laughs about often.
Esraa Alghunaim and Abdullah Alhawas were always awed by the power of knowledge and how reading is essential for child development. So, in 2008 they decided to start hosting a weekly storytelling session for children in a Khobar café.
Today, Kan Yama has hundreds of children and many volunteers attending every Tuesday with a strong enthusiasm for the power of stories. It has expanded to 16 different cities in Saudi Arabia, even expanding internationally with sessions held in Jordan and Los Angeles, California.
The main goal is for the children to have fun, so aside from reading and storytelling, they hold arts and crafts activities, games, singing and so much more.
Kan Yama begins each school semester with a new theme. The volunteers break up into teams to create the stories and plan the activities. The writing volunteers start writing the story for each session, while designers would design related illustrations for the drawing activities. The main characters of all the stories are Tamim and Raneem. Apart from the writing and illustrating, other team members plan out physical activities and entertainment that is always related to the main theme of that semester.
The theme of this season, for example, was to expose the children to different careers.
One of the most joyful experiences the team had was when they collaborated with the Prince Mohammed Program for Youth Development to host a special storytelling session for blind children. It was moving, rewarding and a whole lot of fun. Other collaborations have included working with SciTech and Sanad Cancer Support Association.
Currently, Kan Yama are working on an interactive website for children, and are also improving their YouTube channel to showcase more music, short films and visual stories. They’re also planning several workshops to help teach instructors and volunteers about topics like photography and design.
OTHERS TO CHECK OUT…
Ghadeer Yamani started a program that focuses on engaging young children with literature. Usually at Orchid Kids every Wednesday, she reads several stories and asks interactive questions and engages children in fun activities in between storytelling.
SMARTS Learning Center
SMARTS stands for Students Mapping A Right Start and is an afterschool program that focuses on a variety of creative programs including music, reading and writing in Arabic and Quran recitation.
Location: Villa 4, Alyasmeen Compound, Khobar