EAST WHITTIER – They’ve taken on bullies, tackled the topic of divorce and gently explained disabilities like cerebral palsy and blindness to hundreds of elementary school students over the past few years. Now, volunteers from the Assistance League of Whittier are helping local students learn about autism in their new Kids On The Block puppet show, which made its debut Thursday at Ocean View Elementary School. Kids On The Block is an international educational program that uses a troupe of large puppets to help non-disabled children understand social issues and accept disabled youngsters into their lives. “When we were doing our shows last year, three principals asked whether we had a show on autism and we didn’t,” said chairman Shirley Hawkins. “Autism is a great topic for this because it’s not a visible disability – these children look like everyone else but their behavior and language is different,” said volunteer Virginia “Ginny” Ball. “When David first comes out, flapping his arms around and rocking back and forth, there’s laughing and giggling,” she added. “But by the time we get to the end of the questions, the kids have a different attitude. The laughter stops.” The Assistance League performs its puppet shows for free at schools on Thursdays from January through May, though they are booked through the end of this month, Hawkins said. For additional information, call (562) 693-6533. [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3051 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! As such, the group raised enough money to purchase a script for a new show about an autistic boy, David, and how his family and friends deal with his unusual behavior, which included tantrums, repetitive motions and limited language. “It was a good show,” said third-grader Mariah Garcia, 9. “It taught me not to make fun of other kids with autism, to be nice and generous to them but not give in to their tantrums.” At the end of the show, students were encouraged to ask questions directly to the puppets, which are manned by black-clad Assistance League volunteers whose faces are also covered. “I thought the questions were fabulous,” said volunteer Sherry Barber. “They expressed themselves so well.” The local Assistance League has been building its Kids On The Block puppet show since 1991. Many of the topics deal with teaching children how to respect and treat others who are different from them.
Councillor Tony Zabinsky says the structure is built great and will be well used by many kids.“It was greatly built, it will be well used, and the kids will have fun and the other nice part about it is that when they have their other siblings doing events here, what a great way to burn off some energy and enjoy yourself.”The play structure will be open during the regular operating hours of the Pomeroy Sport Centre. FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The City of Fort St. John held a grand opening on Monday for the new play structure at the Pomeroy Sport Centre.Mayor Lori Ackerman, members of Council, and community members were on hand for the ribbon cutting.According to Ackerman, this is a much-needed structure that families were requesting to be added to the Centre for quite some time.- Advertisement -“We heard from a lot of the families that this was something that was needed in this facility so that those children with so much energy, while they’re watching family members and siblings use the rest of the facility, could come here and get rid of some of that energy.”Ackerman says play is important to the development of children, and this structure will help with that development.“Play is important to the development of children, not only physical growth but cognitive, emotional, and social development. The opportunity for climbing, tumbling, jumping, and crawling whenever they possibly can is certainly going to help them in their building blocks to physical movement and enhancing some specialized skills, it’s really going to help them and encourage them to carry on with an active lifestyle as they get older.”Advertisement read more