On Saturday 17 March, sixteen teenagers gathered at Queen’s Park Library to take part in Manga Mania, a drawing workshop with a professional artist. Many of the participants were already dedicated manga artists, or mangaka as they prefer to be known, and were very pleased to get tips on some of the more technical challenges including perfecting hands, creating striking action poses and getting that over-the-top manga hair just right.
Manga Mania was the first instalment in the library’s Community Events Week and launched seven days of activities aimed at people of all ages. Many of the events have been run with support from local individuals and organisations, including Monday’s brilliant graffiti writing workshop and Chill-Out Tuesday, one of the busiest days of the week…
An air of tranquillity descended on the library as people enjoyed free massage and reflexology tasters courtesy of volunteers from the local Timebank. Demand was huge but advice on meditation and alternative therapies kept people entertained while they waited. As their parents relaxed, children sampled a half-hour family yoga session run by a local member of the British Wheel of Yoga. The teacher was impressed by the youngsters’ focus, and the participants commented that they felt ‘very calm’ afterwards – the children’s library certainly hasn’t been so peaceful for a long time!
The atmosphere changed quickly on Wednesday with the excitement generated by Canine Culture’s Crissie Chambers and her friendly rescue dogs. Families were thrilled to meet these cute canines and share advice on responsible dog ownership and dealing with a fear of dogs, a significant issue in the local area.
On Thursday the energy levels in the library increased again when the Beethoven Centre set up their wonderful smoothie bike. Children (and quite a few adults) chose fruit for their smoothies then pedalled frantically to blend the ingredients; this was ‘hard work but good fun’ and lots of the children learnt a bit more about healthier eating along the way. There were so many eager participants, it was difficult to get a shot of the contraption!
Five days of children’s after-school activities ended with Pop-Out Penguins on Friday, a Photoshop workshop which showed older children how to create eye-catching 3-D digital effects.
The youngest library members weren’t left out and enjoyed special Under Fives sessions on Wednesday and Friday.
Parents signed up to the ‘Bookstart Bear Club’, a free reading scheme for pre-schoolers, before a very furry guest arrived: Bookstart Bear joined the group for some songs and lots of paw-shaking, prompting awestruck silence from some toddlers but smiles from most.
The week drew to a close on 24 March with two very well-attended events, a Family Learning Workshop provided by Westminster Adult Education and ‘Up and Down the Avenues’, part of the Westminster Healthy Walks season. Twenty-one children and parents crafted beautiful spring flowers in the children’s library while eighteen adults made the most of the warm weather in the company of a City of Westminster Guide. This leisurely local history tour was described as ‘brilliant’ by the walkers and made a fitting finale to a great run of events. In total over two hundred and fifty people attended the events week and it was heartening to see such a range of community organisations step up for their local library – we couldn’t have done it without their help!