Chattanooga’s Kids on the Block adds six educational programs, which will include introducing six new Kids on the Block puppets and revised current program offerings for the 2017-2018 school year.
Despite unexpected and severe funding cuts over the last two years, according to CKOB Executive Director Kelly Williams, the requests for the non-threatening and unique educational programs provided by CKOB continue to increase. Last year, CKOB performed 468 educational programs and workshops, serving over 60,000 children and adults in its 16 county service area in Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama. Through donations, foundations, grants, and corporate support, the educational programs are provided to schools free of charge.
The new educational programs include:
Cultural Differences: Multiculturalism – targeted to second grade students, focused on learning to become culturally sensitive and being proud of one’s heritage. It encourages understanding and acceptance of cultural differences and family traditions.
How Do I Look? – targeted to fourth grade students, addressing body changes and self-image issues both girls and boys face as they go through adolescence. It discusses feelings of one’s self and others that are influenced by the media, through peer pressure, and how to cope positively. In addition, it focuses on how to avoid negative peer pressure, having positive self-esteem, and how to effectively communicate with peers and adults when faced with confused feelings about growing up.
Cyberbullying/Safe at School - targeted to fifth grade students, addresses bullying online and highlights the resulting consequences. In addition, “Safety in Schools” gives students ideas on how to keep their school a safe, bully-free zone. It helps children learn team-building skills, effective communication with peers and adults, self-esteem, and keeping themselves safe.
Financial Literacy – a general audience program emphasizing important money skills such as budgeting, taking out a loan, and sales tax - all on a child-appropriate level. It focuses on the important skills of managing money, problem solving, self-esteem, applied mathematics skills, and delayed gratification.
Autism – a general audience program providing information about autism so children can better understand and accept those with autistic differences. It helps children with effective communication skills and encourages understanding of differences.
Sun, Heat, Water, and First Aid Safety – a general audience program addressing being sun smart while enjoying the outdoors, rules by the pool, lakes, and ponds, and to know when it is appropriate to call an emergency number such as 911. If focuses on problem solving, following rules, and effective communication with peers and adults.
The new programs are in addition to 12 focus topics currently presented to schools and the community in the CKOB 16-county service area of Southeast Tennessee, North Georgia and Northeast Alabama.
Several of the new programs will introduce or re-introduce six Kids on the Block puppets:
Jinx Braxton - featured in Cultural Differences: Multiculturalism and Financial Literacy:
“How’d you get the name Jinx?” is the first question asked by many people who meet Jinx Braxton for the first time. Jinx tells her friends that she was born on July 13 which fell on a Friday. When her older brother came to the hospital and saw his baby sister for the very first time he called her “Jinx” and the name stuck. Jinx is a very outgoing 11-year-old who spends some parts of her school day in a resource class for children who are gifted and talented. Learning new things has always come easily for Jinx. Through Jinx, children learn that the stereotype of a gifted child as having a computer for brain is a harmful one and it keeps children from becoming comfortable with one another. Jinx gives children an opportunity to think of gifted children apart from the “nerd” image as often portrayed in books and television programs. Since Jinx’s family is racially mixed, it helps her friends to better understand gifted students and a racially balanced family.
Christine Kontos - featured in How Do I Look?:
Christine Kontos is an 11-year-old girl living in Woodburn. Christine’s family is a large one. In addition to her mother and father, Christine has three older brothers - Ari, Peter, and Mark, and two younger sisters - Mary and Lantha. Christine is the only one of her brothers and sisters who has juvenile diabetes. Since she was 3 years old, Christine has taken ballet lessons and her teachers have told her parents that she is an exceptionally good dancer.
Brian McDaniel - featured in Financial Literacy:
Brian McDaniel is 11 years old and in the fifth grade at Woodburn Elementary. Brian lives with his mother, who teaches piano and voice lessons in their home, and his father, who is the weather forecaster at a local television station. Brian is a bright, out-going boy with lots of friends. His favorite activity is playing the saxophone in the school band. He also enjoys baseball, basketball, karate, and reading scary stories. Besides music, Brian’s other favorite subject at school is social studies. Brian spends an hour a day working with a resource teacher at school. He is just as intelligent as the other children in his class, but in order to achieve his full potential, he gets some additional assistance with his school work because, like some children with epilepsy, Brian also had some learning disabilities. Brian has always believed that, while epilepsy is one part of who he is, he is a lot more like other kids than he is different. That’s why whenever anyone questions his ability to do something because of his epilepsy, he explains that it’s up to him (and his parents) to decide what things he can do, not anyone else.
Sabrina Johnson - featured in Autism:
Sabrina Johnson is 14 years old and is the only child of divorced parents. She is involved in a variety of activities including soccer, cheerleading, the school newspaper, and working at the grocery store. Sabrina loves to be a part of the action. She is often home by herself after school since her mom works full-time as a real estate agent. Sabrina and her mom live next door to the Franklin’s. Sabrina is a sexual abuse surivor. She has received counseling and is a positive example of life after abuse. Sabrina is working on feeling better about herself and demonstrates that young people can develop positive self-image within a negative home or community environment. She can be quite naïve at times and her interest in gossip and popular opinions tend to provide her with misinformation about issues. However, through her openness and her attempts to do the right thing, Sabrina is a representation of children who are searching for the right choice and are willing to learn as they grow.
David Franklin - featured in Autism:
David Franklin is a 15-year-old autistic boy. In the program on Autism, David, with the help of his brother Eddy, teaches kids about some of David’s differences. Through this presentation, David demonstrates that the things that make each of us different also make each of us special.
Abbie Lynch as Ms. Brady - featured in Cyberbulling/Safe at School:
Abbie Lynch is 25 years old. She is a pediatric hospice nurse who loves children and while she finds her career as a pediatric hospice nurse very rewarding, she also enjoys teaching in the local elementary school. Abbie was diagnosed with ADHD in elementary school. She had difficulty with school work and a hard time paying attention in class, never completed her work on time, and seemed unable to follow directions. She even went through a time in elementary school where she was isolated and withdrawn. When Abbie entered junior high, her seventh grade social studies teacher realized that she had trouble focusing in class. Abbie was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactive disorder. Once she started receiving services including counseling and development of learning strategies, her life began to improve. The strategies she learned helped her to develop better social skills. After high school, Abbie went to college. She used her learning strategies to do difficult school work and learned how to be more organized.
“We are listening to the needs of the children and families in our community. Through the current program focus topics, many of those needs are being met to help educate our children about social concerns and differences, giving them skills to stay safe and healthy,” said Ms. Williams.
Chattanooga's Kids on the Block provides educational programs to children in grades pre-kindergarten through fifth, using the art of Bunraku puppetry. Through scripted puppet presentations and follow-up with student and puppet interaction, children are able to open up and ask questions as if the puppets were trusted friends.
“This is a unique program that encourages open communication between children and parents and provides age appropriate information to children on difficult and sensitive topics and concerns,” said Ms. Williams.
"CKOB is one of the oldest, most active and most respected troupes in the United States. CKOB is licensed to perform all 45 nationally researched educational programs available to Kids on the Block troupes, using the nationally known Kids on the Block puppets. All CKOB puppeteers/educators are certified Bunraku artists and hold degrees in various disciplines, with extensive ongoing continuing education related to the program topics in efforts to maintain a high level of expertise," officials said.
To schedule an educational program in your school or for your community event, or to make a financial contribution, contact www.kidsontheblock.net, or call 423-757-5259.