Despite the unexpected loss of funding, Chattanooga’s Kids on the Block has performed a record number of programs as requested by schools and community organizations and has seen a 17 percent increase of children and adults served six months into their fiscal year.
CKOB is a non-profit organization serving 16 counties in Southeast Tennessee, North Georgia, and Northeast Alabama, using the power of puppetry to educate children about social concerns and differences, giving them the skills to stay safe and healthy. Over the past two years CKOB has suffered an expected loss of over $170,000 in funding beginning with the corporate relocation of a major donor and the total cut in funding through United Way of Greater Chattanooga.
“The past two years have been challenging,” said Executive Director Kelly Williams, “starting with the corporate changes to the Southern Brewers Festival in 2014 and total funding cut for programs in Hamilton County by United Way of Greater Chattanooga in 2015, yet we are continuing to receive an increase in requests for our educational programs throughout our service area.”
In 2016 CKOB realigned its partnership with the Craftworks Foundation and received 50 percent of the proceeds from the Southern Brewers Festival. “We were thrilled to partner with CraftWorks Foundation again and are looking forward to working with them in 2017, but we are still experiencing a hard loss of funding which has been slower to replace than anticipated,” said Ms. Williams. “We continue to seek out and establish funding sources and partner with community organizations in our efforts to provide our vital educational services free of charge to schools in our community.”
During the first semester of the 2016-2017 school year, five new schools in the CKOB service area have requested educational programs focused on child abuse, bullying, stranger danger, gangs and violence, positive self-esteem, anger management, accepting differences and life lessons. With recent reports of bullying, sexting and gang violence making headlines, CKOB educational puppetry programs are become more vital in helping children understand what this means and how they can keep themselves safe from a situation that gives them that “Uh Oh” feeling, how to deal with sensitive issues and how to communicate effectively to get help if they or someone they know needs help, said officials.
For over 37 years, CKOB has used the nationally recognized Kids on the Block puppets and the nationally researched scripts to provide awareness and prevention programs on such topics as bullying, child abuse, childhood obesity, brain injury, accepting differences, gangs and violence, alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, self-esteem, hygiene and mental health among other topics, to educate primarily elementary aged children in the community
CKOB provides programs free of charge to schools and community organizations in the community in an effort to enhance the quality of life in the communities served and to empower children to become healthy, strong and resourceful community members and future leaders. “The need and requests for our educational programs continue to grown and our evaluations show the significant impact those programs make in our community,” said Ms. Williams.
Following a CKOB program, children have the opportunity to talk directly with the puppets about the program they experienced. As a licensed child abuse prevention agency, CKOB reports any disclosures of possible maltreatment to the Department of Children’s Services. Children and adults are provided with specific follow up materials at the end of each performance such as activity sheets, adult/parent and educator resource guides and classroom activities that reinforce the lessons of each educational topic.
With cuts in funding threatening to reduce the number of CKOB programs provided free of charge to the schools in the Chattanooga area, CKOB continues to look for new partners and fundraising avenues to raise funds to provide programs to better serve children and families in the community. To make a donation to CKOB or would like more information please visit www.kidsontheblock.net or call 757-5259.