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TV and Radio for parents: new initiatives in Kyrgyzstan

© UNICEF, Kyrgyzstan


Since ancient times, Kyrgyz people have strongly believed in the power of blessing at the beginning of any new endeavor. The blessing opens knowledge, raises enthusiasm and brings luck. A large group, rich in experience in various fields – media, art, child care development, pedagogy and psychology – has just been blessed and will start a new television and radio programme for parents in Kyrgyzstan. This happened at a five-day workshop supported by UNICEF (2-6 November 2009) in the main hall of the National TV and Radio Corporation and was conducted by the magic hand of Ms. Barbara Kolucki, an expert with international experience in media production for and about children.

The workshop programme followed main principles of developing effective media for parents and other caregivers of young children: building self-confidence and competence, being positive, interactivity and fun!

On the first day, the participants, most of whom were parents or grandparents themselves, discovered a new world of parenting. They translated the meaning of responsive and holistic care through everyday magical moments: disciplining turned into education and fun, care for a newborn turned into a meaningful dialogue with mutual respect, daily feeding turned into a time for healthy food for a child’s body, mind and soul.. The participants left the first day with a special task to practice this theory at home. The next day started with sharing the results. Kiyal Borugulova, scriptwriter and programme director at the National TV and Radio Corporation reported: “Yesterday, after the workshop I had to stay late at work. When I came home, I had tons of things to do: cooking, cleaning and helping to prepare my eldest daughter for school. But, I started the evening by constructing a new toy for my three-year old son. It took me a long time, but I saw the eyes of my boy and understood that it was the most important thing in the world for him at that moment.”

The second day continued with  participants viewing some of  the best international media for parents. There was not a single second of rest. There were sessions on analysis, discussion and practice. At the end of the day, Kokulya Aripova, programme director, exclaimed: “It is really fun to produce programmes for parents”. Ms. Aida Idrisova, neonatologist from Maternity House No. 6, was there to consult the media trainers on medical issues. She proposed: “All the principles we discuss here can be, and in fact MUST BE applied in our medical work too. I am going to share these materials with my colleagues.” On the third day, she was the first to arrive at the workshop – straight after the night shift: “I want to sleep of course, but I cannot loose such a golden chance to learn”.

On the fifth day, the working room turned into a presentation studio. It was full of guests who came to see the practical work of the workshop. The participants demonstrated four TV and two radio programmes. The first TV group revealed that any parent had something valuable to share with others. In their film, father gently and expertly  massages his  two-week-old infant.  It was not just a film about massage, it was a film about a father’s love and his skills to communicate with his child. It was also a film about the potential of even the youngest infant to respond to his father and to enjoy and learn from this simple yet powerful activity.

The second video was about learning through play. In his office, a serious-looking man of an apparently high rank found a sticker with a smiling face on his shoes. It was a special gift from his four-year-old daughter, who he had taught how to put shoes on the cirrect way. The third film tackled a difficult issue: how to minimize the damage of harmful traditions without offending the cultural dignity of local people.. The fourth production  was about learning to love words and books.. A six-month-old baby was reading a book with his father; a 70-year old grandmother is playing animals with young girls and a bright girl with a disability uses simple pencils to create “words”. This six year old Altynay, who cannot walk, writes with pencils the dearest word for her – “mommy”.

One of the radio spots presented a story on the positive aspects of discipline – a story that moved the audience to  tears. It was about a father who was about to repeat his father’s reaction – to scold his son for a broken window. The man suddenly paused and did just the opposite. He apologized to his son for not explaining where he can safely play with a ball. “I cannot get the window back by yelling at my child, I would just sow fear in my son,” he explains to his neighbour. The ending is quite unexpected. The father and son return home and see the window has been fixed. It has been fixed by the grandfather. The young man meets the eyes of his old father and sees the signs of approval. The other radio spot was about the delight of sounds and music around us. A simple walk in one’s neighborhood is an opportunity for play and learning. “It is also a ready-to-use media for children with sight problems and it is also a great tool for every kindergarten,” pointed out one of the guests.

The workshop has now ended. Enthusiasm remains in the every heart and mind. It was the power of a blessing that lit up the TV and Radio crew who will soon create a new programme for parents on the main media channels of Kyrgyzstan that reaches even the most disadvantaged families in poorest and most remote areas of the Republic – one important goal of the workshop. . A growing sense of healthy competition and commitment is evident:  Kyrgyz colleagues and UNICEF hope that parents will soon increase their competence and confidence to provide holistic and responsive care to their children. 



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