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Shanghai: Old Games for Children Revived
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The Shanghai Spiritual Civilization Office, Education Commission, Physical Education Bureau and Women's Union worked together to hold several competitions of "traditional street games" among the city's pupils and their parents from last winter to this summer.

Traditional street games are what people in their 30s or 40s used to play when they were children back in the alleyways of old Shanghai. Such children's pastimes include "rotating and moving an iron ring with an iron rod," "flipping glass beads" and "throwing sandbags at your enemies."

"These games are simple. They don't need much space and cost little. They are games that can be played at anywhere, anytime," a woman who came with her son to the competition said. "I am so happy I can play games I haven't played in a long time. It takes me back to my childhood! It's really exciting to show my boy what a 'game-master' his mother is!"

"I learned from my grandpa and I found out he was a real game-king!" a teenager and PC game addict said. "I think these games are more interesting than computer games I've played."

With people moving out of alleyways and living in cement complexes and children's after-school time being occupied by homework and various tutoring lessons, computer games and comics are becoming the major draws in children's entertainment. This makes their social circles smaller and cause them to feel lonely.

Experts said these old alleyway games facilitate children to play in groups and encourage face-to-face communication in the process, something modern games lack.

A competition organizer said, "For our children, achieving high grades is not enough. They need to learn how to communicate with each other and how to work in a team. Playing traditional games is just a good way to cultivate team spirit."

Since it started at the end of last year, over 10,000 families have taken part in the competition. Feedback is positive, showing over half of the participating pupils like these old street games very much.

Shanghai also launched another program, "Sunny Saturday," to open schools' physical education facilities to pupils living in nearby communities on weekends. Pupils now don't have to worry about where to spend healthy and sporty Saturday afternoons now.

(China Daily November 25, 2006)

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