Renaldo, Mark, and Brenda pose for the camera.
Renaldo and Brenda visit the Audobon Child Center in Williamsville, NY
Renaldo does a “meet and greet” with students at Highgate Heights Elementary School in Buffalo, NY.
Behind the Scenes
Kids on the Block is an educational puppet troupe that travels to elementary schools across Western New York promoting disability awareness and the acceptance of differences. The program is internationally-acclaimed and the troupe sponsored by the Museum of disABILITY History is one of over 1,700 troupes worldwide!
The Kids on the Block program was established in 1977 in direct response to Public Law 94-142, also called the “mainstreaming law” which required that children with disabilities be educated in the least restrictive environment. The puppets were designed to create a comfortable environment that would allow children to openly discuss their questions or concerns. During this time, myths and misperceptions are replaced with facts and sensitivity.
Each puppet character has a distinct personality and life-story. They have pets, siblings, hobbies, and attend school just like every other child! They all have big plans for themselves when they grow up too. The puppets who portray children with visual impairments, Down Syndrome, or Cerebral Palsy exude high self-esteem and view their disability as just a small part of who they are.
Some children have blond hair, others have brown. Some children have green eyes, others have blue. Children come from all different cultural backgrounds. The “Kids” convey the message that being different is a universal condition and our differences should be celebrated! The life-size bright and colorful puppets capture the attention of the audience as the puppeteers seem to disappear!
How Children Benefit
- The Kids on the Block performances meet many New York State ELA and Arts Learning Standards. An outline of the NYS Learning Standards the program coincides with are distributed after each performance.
- The program helps break down barriers by including question/answer periods where the audience is free to ask questions to the “Kids” and the puppeteers. The lively and upbeat scripts are performed by human service professionals and volunteers who are trained to appropriately answer the questions that children in the audience ask.
- The puppets boost self-esteem, promote acceptance of individual differences, and address Character Education.
- Informational packets are distributed to provide teachers with materials for further discussion and activities related to the topics presented.