Chattanooga's Kids on the Block Teach Lessons on Stranger Danger and Personal Safety
"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."
Chattanooga's Kids on the Block (CKOB) is an educational program that presents difficult information to elementary school-aged children through the art of puppetry.
According to Kelly Williams, Executive Director of CKOB two of the most requested topics presented to young children, Pre-K through first and second grade in our community, is "Stranger Danger" and "Personal Safety".
Through these programs life-size puppets, using nationally researched scripts present important safety lessons on stranger danger, area codes, important numbers and emergency plans. The puppets interact with the children during the performance stressing vital safety rules including:
- Always check first with parents or the person in charge before you go anywhere or get into a car, even if it is with someone you know
- Always check first with your parents or a trusted adult before you accept anything from anyone, even from someone you know
- Always take a friend with you when you go places or play outside
- Know your name, address, telephone number and parents' full names
- Say NO LOUDLY if someone tries to touch you or treat you in a way that makes you feel scared, uncomfortable or confused
- Always tell your parents or trusted adults if you feel scared, uncomfortable or confused.
These are just a few of the tips the puppets through the educational program performances give to children to help keep them safe.
Research indicates that children in this age group are developmentally able to react to characters that are peer role models. During the performances, according to Ms. Williams, children see the puppet characters as their friends and are able to open up to them and ask questions.
CKOB practices an ancient Japanese art form of puppetry called Bunraku (pronounced Boon-ra-ku). The puppeteer dresses in black from head to toe and becomes the shadow behind the hand and rod puppet. KOB puppets consist of characters that are three to four feet tall. They dress in real kids' clothes, have distinctive personalities and portray for children, through carefully scripted material, a world of real life situations.
Kids on the Block is an international program with associates in 36 countries world-wide and more then 1,000 programs in the United States alone. Since 1977, they have developed 42 puppet programs to enable individuals to teach children about disabilities, differences and other areas of social concern.
CKOB has been performing educational programs on difficult topics since 1979 and have presented to over 850,000 children and adults in 12 counties throughout Southeast Tennessee and Northwest Georgia.
It takes almost 6 months to become a fully trained puppeteer. During their training time, a puppeteer needs to become knowledgeable about all topics that are presented so that they may answer any question that kids might have. Mastering the art of Bunraku requires months of practice to coordinate the puppet's mouth actions with the puppeteer's voice, create movements that make the puppet appear to come to life and maintain the puppet's eye contact with the audience.
Classroom presentations for elementary school aged children are the main focus of KOB
"Our programs inspire children to ask questions like: What's it like to be in a wheelchair? What's it like to have ADHD? How did you feel when your parents got divorced? What do you do when someone asks you to do something with your body that you don't want to do?", said Ms. Williams The puppets, acting as children, respond with clarity and candor to the hundreds of questions asked by the audience.
Current topics being offered are:
- Preschool Teachers "Talking About Touching" - Personal Safety/Child Abuse Prevention Awareness
- Pre-Kindergarten "Life Lessons with Yasmin" - Good manners, hand washing, dental hygiene
- Kindergarten "Three Lessons for Me to Be Hurt Free - 342" - stranger danger, area cods and emergency plans OR "At the Dentist" - dental hygiene
- First Grade "Super Germ Fighters" - Hand washing and viruses
- Second Grade "Accepting Differences" - Physical and Learning Disabilities : blindness, cerebral palsy, autism, ADHD and allergies
- Third Grade "Personal Safety"- Physical and Sexual Abuse Prevention
- Fourth Grade "STEPS" Safety Talk Encouraging Peaceful Schools- Bullying, anger management, gangs and violence OR "Brain Power" - Brain injury and epilepsy awareness
- Fifth Grade "Healthy Kids" - Healthy snacking, being active and dental hygiene) OR "The Gift of Life"- Organ donation education
For more information or to book a performance, please call Chattanooga's Kids on the Block at (423) 757-5259, or Contact Us here.