Launched in 2009, "Children's Soul" is a television show by and for children airing on the youth channel Turkmenistan Yashlyk. Funded by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the programme aims to advance overall child development by increasing viewers' access to ideas and by promoting critical thinking and participation in social and cultural life through media.
"Children's Soul" is an effort to develop high-quality programming that broadens children's outlook and that makes them aware of their right to participate in their own development. The show, which airs every other Sunday, features a young (22-year-old) Turkmen TV anchor who covers the issues of health, education, rights, sports, nutrition, environmental protection, culture, art, science, and other themes of interest to children. To cite one specific example, an episode that aired in early March 2009 was devoted to the International Day of Children's Broadcasting (IDCB). The episodes take the form of discussion, feature stories, field visits, invitation of celebrities to the show, games, songs, cartoons, short social films, demonstration, and/or discussion of books.
"Children's Soul" allows children to learn about issues related to their wellbeing, creating opportunities for ordinary schoolchildren to participate by telling their stories or submitting their creative works to the contests announced during the show. In addition, some participants are fulfilling an interest in a possible future media career. For example, 16-year-old Gulchinar Gogusheva leads one of the segments of the show where she demonstrates handmade things that children can create themselves at their leisure; she comments, "It is a great opportunity for me to interact with children and become a TV professional."
According to UNICEF, with low internet availability and lack of children's print media, Turkmenistan children find television a major source for information, education, and entertainment.
Yashlyk TV channel, UNICEF.
Posting to the Young People's Media Network (YPMN) on February 25 2009; and email from Gulyalek Soltanova to The Communication Initiative on June 17 2009. Photo credit: UNICEF Turkmenistan.