West Iron County Elementary students met the Kids on the Block during the group’s puppet performance on Feb. 7. During the skit “Do it Again, Jimmy!” the students meet Ellen Jane Peterson (Phylisha Sheldon), a 17-year old with Down Syndrome, and Jimmy (Tristan Nelson), an emotionally impaired student.
IRON RIVER—The Kids on the Block performed at West Iron County Elementary School on Feb. 7. The skits performed by the group provide lessons to students about disabilities and how to be friends and understand those who have disabilities.
These disabilities range from emotional, learning and even physical.
The Kids on the Block are educational puppets, both disabled and non-disabled that are designed to teach children what it’s like to be different.
The style of puppetry used is based on a Japanese style of puppetry called bunraku. In bunraku, puppeteers dress in black and stand behind the puppets while manipulating the puppet’s arm using hand rods. Because of the black costumes and backdrop, the puppeteers seem to disapper into the background.
After each skit, the elementary students were encouraged to ask the puppets any question about the topic. For example, during “Sticks and Stones,” the students were asked by the puppets what they should do if they are bullied and called names.
According to Sharon Davis from Dickinson-Iron Intermediate School District, even the older kids get a lot out of being part of the performers. She said that several of them have chosen physical therapy or psychology as their future study because of what they learned from the Kids on the Block.