Scholar Jessica on Drama

McLean County Diversity Project   c/o Jeffrey A. Schwartz   PO Box 58   Downs, IL  61736

Scholars Sanskriti and Tanvi on Kids on the Block

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We have been involved with the Kids on the Block Puppet Troupe for our project for almost two years now, and it has been an extraordinary experience!

Throughout the past two years, we have met with Director Connie Kelly and seven other puppeteers, once a week. At each practice, we learn about the disabilities, perfect the techniques of how to use the puppets, learn new scripts, and interact with each other as our puppets to fully understand each puppet's individual personality.

By performing these skits, we have learned a lot about the disabilities that the puppets have and the proper way to interact with a disabled person. During the practices, we have realized that people really do expect that people with a disability can't do regular things, so we hoped to show the kids that they are just like everyone else. We have learned about all of the disabilities in depth and understood that the lives of people with a disability isn't much different, and they can do ordinary things, but just in a different way. By preparing to do these performances, we have learned a lot about how people would view someone with a disability. Most people assume that they cannot do things for themselves and are helpless. We try to show that they do not have restrictions on doing things that most kids do. For example, the puppets with disabilities have jobs and play sports.

As we studied about each of our puppet's disabilities, we have learned a lot. When we did our performances, the kids asked many tough questions that got us thinking, which shows that the kids were thinking, also.

The puppets that we use have disabilities including spina-bifida, down syndrome, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, and being blind or deaf. We also use puppets that do not have a disability, and are just friends, to show the kids that a disability is just a difference that does not restrict them from doing everyday things, and that the puppets with disabilities are just regular kids, just like their friends.

Performing these puppet shows has been a rewarding experience. As we do the performances, we entertain the kids at the same time of filling their brains with knowledge. The kids get a lot out of the shows, and get a better understanding of how a disabled person's life functions. We hope the kids will take what they learn and use the information in their everyday life.

The Kids on the Block is a national puppet troupe that started in the 1970's and expanded from there; we are grateful that we decided to join the Kids on the Block! While the practices are fun, we also get an opportunity to teach society about different disabilities. As we teach the kids, we learn a lot ourselves. Overall, joining this puppet troupe has been a great experience!

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