Chattanooga Kids On The Block Receives $10,000 Grant

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Chattanooga's Kids on the Block has received a $10,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga to help continue a limited number of “Personal Safety” educational programs presented to children in the Hamilton County school system free of charge.

The Foundation’s mission is to encourage giving and inspire action to improve lives in the Chattanooga area. According to the Foundation, it is through everyone’s interest and support that they are able to place contributions where they will truly benefit those who need it most. CFGC touches thousands of lives every year and through those efforts all of Chattanooga becomes greater.

According to Kelly Williams, executive director of CKOB, two of the most requested topics presented to young children first through third grade in our community, are personal safety and bullying.  “With severe cuts in local funding threatening to reduce the number of CKOB programs provided free of charge to the schools in Chattanooga, this grant will help us continue to offer our schools a limited number of personal safety educational programs,” said Ms. Williams.

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. 

In a recent survey of local elementary school students on the topic of bullying 67 percent of the students showed a positive change in knowledge, attitude and/or behavior after seeing the CKOB educational program focused on bullying.

Pre and post testing of local elementary school teachers indicated a 10 percent positive change in classroom behavior more than 30 days following the CKOB educational program on bullying and personal safety-child abuse. 

Fifth grade student Paige said “The show was awesome. It really taught me how to control my anger. The show helped a lot.

Tiara, second grade student said, “I learned that it’s important to talk about my feelings.” 

Devyn, third grade student said, “I liked your program. It was exciting and funny. I felt safer after watching it. Now I know that child abuse is never a kid’s fault. Thanks for doing the presentation.

Through these programs life-size puppets, use nationally researched scripts to present safety lessons on child abuse awareness and prevention, stranger danger, bullying, gangs, violence, anger management, conflict resolution, and promote positive self-esteem.  The puppets interact with the children during the performance stressing safety rules including: 

Never use violence when in a bullying situation, walk away and tell a trusted adult

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 provide through the educational program performances to help keep children safe.

CKOB practices a 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 a world of real life situations. 

It takes almost six 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 CKOB. “Our programs inspire children to ask questions like: What do you do when someone asks you to do something with your body that you don’t want to do and how do I deal with a bully when no one listens to me,” said Ms. Williams. The puppets, acting as children, respond with clarity and candor to the hundreds of questions asked by the audience. 

Last year, CKOB performed 423 educational programs serving over 64,000 children and adults in their 15 county service area including Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia.  CKOB is one of the oldest, most active and respected troupes in the United States and named 2012 Non Profit of the Year by the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce.

For more information on CKOB or to schedule an educational performance, visit the website or call 757-5259.

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