Chattanooga's Kids on the Block

About Us

Our Mission

Using the power of puppetry, our mission is to educate children about social concerns and differences, giving them the skills to stay safe and healthy.

Our Goals

  • Encourage open communication
  • Provide accurate information
  • Encourage acceptance of physical, social and cultural differences
  • Build self-esteem and empower action
  • Keep children safe


Kids on the Block, Inc. is an award-winning international educational program created in 1977 by Barbara Aiello. It was originally created when "mainstreaming" children became a law. It was designed to help introduce children with special needs into school classrooms. The program uses child size puppets to carry out its mission. The highly trained puppeteers use a form of puppetry called Bunraku. They are dressed in black and become shadows behind the puppet. The puppets have distinctive personalities and portray, through carefully scripted material, a world of real life situations. As our puppets come to life, children identify with them and open up to them as if they were trusted friends. Our hope is to prevent problems before they happen. We want to empower children, teaching them the skills to stay safe and healthy.

Kids on the Block, Inc. provides over 44 educational puppet programs addressing various disabilities, educational and medical differences, and social concerns. These programs are thoroughly researched and field-tested before they become available to schools, community service organization, hospitals and special interest groups. Currently, the "kids" are active in all fifty states and in more than 36 foreign countries.

Chattanooga's Kids on the Block was formed in 1979 by Mary Ann Schenk. It is one of the oldest and most experienced troupes performing today. In 1985 we became an official United Way agency, and we also receive additional funding from foundations, grants, corporations, community organizations, special events and individual donations. Our puppeteers are highly skilled and receive continuous in-service training on the topics we present. It is imperative that we provide the correct information when a child opens up and asks questions.

Chattanooga's Kids on the Block is a licensed child abuse prevention agency in the state of Tennessee.

Want to help?

Chattanooga's Kids on the Block has many volunteer opportunities, which include light office work, puppet maintenance/care & annual fundraiser events. Newsletters need to be folded/stapled/labeled quarterly and activity sheets counted among other clerical duties are needed during our Dinner Auction (Spring), Annual Gift Wrap Event (December) and Southern Brewers Festival (August). We also need lightly used clothes (4T), shoes (3-4) & glasses to keep our puppets up to date. Your Financial Contributions are appreciated as we continue to provide children with skills to keep them safe and healthy!