TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) - From their ABCs, to different types of animals, Friday, students at Wea Ridge Elementary School learned how to communicate with the deaf through sign language.
Yet, students didn't learn from just anyone. They were taught by Mandy the Puppet.
The play is put on by a group called "Kids First." Program Coordinator Gail McCormick said the program began locally in 1994.
"The goal of the program is to make the students realize that they can be accepting of children with special needs, of individuals with special needs," said McCormick.
McCormick said the play focuses on a girl named Mandy. Mandy is approached by a young girl who loses her kitten, and together, they find the lost kitten by using sign language.
Volunteer Beata Ribeiro said using puppets to illustrate the communication barrier allows kids to kick down their own barrier when it comes to asking questions.
"I think they have an easiness of talking to puppets instead of us lecturing them," said Ribeiro. "That's what it's all about, to make them feel comfortable and to make them understand the other person, the other side."
McCormick said the "Kids First" program focuses on 11 different topics. She said topics range from bullying and teasing, to other types of special needs.
McCormick said it costs about $2,000 to put on each program, but said it's a cost that's well worth it.
"I hope one of these days, when I'm too old to not do these shows anymore, that I have made a difference in someone's life," said McCormick. "That's my hope."
McCormick said the group performs about 100 shows a year.
For more information on the "Kids First" puppet shows, call Oakland High School at (765) 771-6130 and ask for Gail McCormick.
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