Eyear Optical has donated eyeglasses for Chattanooga Kids on the Block puppet kids Renaldo Rodriguez, Melody James, and Clare Sanchez. The puppet kids went to Eyear Optical on Shallowford Road to be fitted for new eyes glasses before the beginning of school this fall.
Keith Smart optician apprentice with Eyear Optical fitted all three puppet kids for new glasses. “I saw Chattanooga’s Kids on the Block when I was 11-years-old and loved them. When I got the call to donate glasses I thought now is my chance to give back, I love the fact of what they do for the community and the kids,” he said.
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CKOB practices a Japanese art form of puppetry called Bunraku. The puppeteer dresses in black from head to toe and becomes the shadow behind the hand and rod puppet. CKOB puppets consist of characters that are three to four feet tall. They dress in real kids’ clothes, have distinctive personalities and portray for children, through carefully scripted material, a world of real life situations. The puppets become a trusted friend. Children often open up to the puppets talking to them about topics they may not feel comfortable talking about to an adult. It is important for children to be able to relate to the puppets. Puppets range in prices from $700 - $1,500 each and are consistently maintained and updated to reflect the attitudes and style of the children in the community.
It takes almost six months to become fully trained puppeteer. During their training, a puppeteer needs to become knowledgeable about all topics that are presented so that they may answer children’s questions.
“Going into Eyear Optical with the puppet kids, seeing the process of an eye exam and being fitted for new glasses, gave us an understanding of what a child that wears glasses experiences," said CKOB Program Director Carly Lewallen. "Now we will be able to answer questions or understand from a child’s point of view the concept of wearing glasses."
CKOB offers educational programs using the power of puppetry to educate children on social concerns and differences, giving them the skills to stay safe and healthy in 15 counties. Financial support through grants, donations and fundraising events gives CKOB the opportunity to provide services free of charge in schools.
Following a CKOB program, statics show that 67 percent of the children show a positive change in knowledge, attitude and/or behavior of a specific program topic like bullying, child abuse awareness, and healthy snacking just to name a few.
In a local high school survey 77 percent of the students said that seeing a CKOB program while in elementary school helped them to make better choices.
With cuts in funding threatening to reduce the number of CKOB programs provided free of charge to the schools in the Chattanooga area, support from business such as Eyear Optical, donations from corporations and individuals and fundraising events through out the year help to ensure that children receive the skills through a unique educational curriculum using puppetry to be safe and healthy.
For more information on CKOB or to schedule a educational program performances, visit www.kidsontheblock.net or call 757-5259