Our farthest-reaching program, serving over 2,000 children in preschool through fifth grade, Puppet Power gives elementary age students information and skills to handle situations they may encounter that threaten their safety.
Presented in an engaging format by local students who in many cases learned in the same classrooms as their audience, this program empowers and educates our youth on meaningful mental health topics through puppet plays. It’s clear to see how their faces light up, both in delight and recognition of the subject at hand. The focus of these presentations is to help children make better and more informed decisions about serious issues they may encounter including anti-drug and anti-bullying, self-confidence, and body rights.
History: The “Puppet Power” program was started by MHAoPC and The Child Abuse Prevention Committee in 1997. The two original puppets were constructed by local home economics groups. Since then we’ve expanded and enhanced our puppets, and with grants and community contributions, now have thirteen! All commissioned by local artist Kace Huber who designed and constructed the enchanting ‘kids’, this racially and ethnically diverse group travel to all county elementary schools for presentations.
When Red Ribbon Week, a national drug prevention campaign in October, is celebrated in our county schools, our plays are in sync with this effort, teaching kids on how to stay away from drugs and keep themselves safe. Throughout the year other subjects are presented. Our plays include:
- “Sharing A Secret”(Child Abuse Prevention)
- “No Means No!” (Child Abuse Prevention/Body Rights)
- “I Can Do It!” (Self-Confidence)
- “Be Smart, Don’t Start” (Tobacco Education)
- “Use Your Brain!” (Incorrect Prescription Drug Use)
- “Think!” (Safety education involving substances)
- “Are You A Bully?” (Strategies to cope with Bullying Behaviors. Three grade level appropriate scripts.) “What If?” (Safety Program for Pre-school and Kindergarten)
In 2016, MHAoPC teamed up with the PIE Coalition (Prevention, Intervention and Education), a component of our Local Coordinating Council (LCC). LCC is a planning and coordinating body for addressing alcohol and other drug problems in Indiana; PIE is known officially as the Putnam County PIE Coalition against Substance Abuse. Their county-wide effort to reduce the abuse and illegal use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs includes a high school program that brings students in from all four county schools (any Putnam County High School students may join).
One of the volunteer opportunities for PIE students is Puppet Power, and many participate. While there are obvious benefits to the little kids in the audience, the puppeteers who present the programs love it as well, creating a memorable experience for themselves of giving back to younger students. When asked what they love about PIE the most, the students always answer “Puppet Power!”
MHAoPC is very proud of our Puppet Power program and see it continuing to educate our youngest school children in a wonderfully engaging manner!