In October the third and fourth grade boys attended a Lower School assembly geared to their grade levels, with a special presentation by the puppets and puppeteers from NYC Kids Project. This entertaining and enlightening puppet show aimed to educate the boys on various disabilities they may encounter in other children, including Down Syndrome, ADD, blindness, cerebral palsy, and so on. The two teaching artists-puppeteers encouraged audience participation and discussion about inclusion, allowing for many questions from the boys. One of the puppets, Renaldo, told what it is like to be blind and walk with a cane under the direction of a mobility coach, and how he has a special watch that opens up and allows him to tell time by feeling the hands, just like reading Braille. He also plays basketball, explaining that there is a buzzer on the hoop and a bell inside the ball he plays with.
Perhaps the most interesting segment involved Renaldo’s conversation with fellow puppet Mark, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair he calls his “cruiser.” The two spoke about Mark’s upcoming camping trip with his family and all the fun they have telling ghost stories, etc. Renaldo is hoping he will be invited to come along, but that doesn’t happen. The scenario prompted the Browning boys to relate instances of when they, too, felt left out by a friend. Happily, by the end of the show, the two friends cleared the air and acknowledged that blindness would not deter Renaldo from enjoying a camping trip – complete with s’mores – after all!
The day after the assembly, the boys in Kindergarten, first and second grades were visited by these same puppeteers who gave presentations specifically geared to each of these three grade levels.