|(Pictured above: Kids on the Block speak to students in kindergarten to Grade 2 at Lombardy Public School.)The students at Lombardy Public School met a special group of Kids on the Block last Thursday – a unique troupe of almost life-size puppets with physical, mental, medical and emotional differences – and learned all about how important it is to embrace differences and accept everyone.Kids on the Block is a group presented by the Ottawa-Carleton Puppeteers for Kids on the Block in Association with the Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre. This particular group of puppeteers is comprised of Sylvia Renaud, Janice Bertrand, Bonnie Preston and Donna Bourgeault. The troupe promotes disability awareness and acceptance using an ancient Japanese style of puppetry called Bunraku, which allows the audience to see the puppeteers who are dressed in black. Kids on the Block began in 1983 and has since grown to about 50 troupes in Canada and about 2,000 troupes worldwide.
The puppeteers started their show introducing students to puppets Brenda and Renaldo. Renaldo is an 11-year-old boy who is almost completely blind. Brenda asked Renaldo questions about his prescription walking stick and Braille watch. Renaldo explained thoroughly, and then answered student questions.
The next pair of puppets was Mark and Michael Riley, identical twin brothers in every way but one – Mark has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair. The skit showed both puppets eating and bickering about how one brother ate too quickly and one ate too slowly. Michael talked about how he wanted more attention from his parents, while Mark talked about how he wanted his brother to understand that he can’t physically do all of the things that Michael can. Again, both Michael and Mark answered student questions.
Civitan Club of Smiths Falls member Jim Wiltsie said he contacted the schools about seeing the troupe on behalf of the Civitan Club. He believes Kids on the Block have an important message to share. “It’s terrific,” he said. “Students are going to see that not everyone is the same. It really opens their eyes.”
Posted: May 11, 2011