Learning from Puppets

Learning from Puppets
By: Wendy Ray

Jackson, MO - It’s sometimes hard for children to accept things that are different; that’s why a new program aims to teach them how to handle situations they're not used to. It’s called the A.N.D.Y. show. A.N.D.Y. uses puppets to bring the message to students in southeast Missouri.

Teaching children we're all alike on the inside is the focus of the A.N.D.Y. puppet show. A.N.D.Y. stands for able, not disabled youth. "When you lean on their wheelchair it’s like you're leaning on them," one puppet says. Those words of advice are sinking in to students at South Elementary in Jackson. "You're supposed to bend down and talk to them so they don't have to look up from their wheelchair," student C.J. Archer says.

Its information that Cindy Brotherton with the Department of Mental Health says children may not know, because they're afraid to ask. "Sometimes children are not comfortable asking parents or teachers but sometimes they will play with a Barbie or other toy and talk with them. If we use a puppet they may ask them a question they're not going to ask a parent or teacher," Brotherton says. These students aren't afraid to get involved and learn what life is like for people with disabilities. "We should learn a lot so people don't make fun of kids with disabilities," student Ashley Stahlman says. "I think it's going to be something children are exposed to from day one until they're out in the workforce. It's good to teach them these children are more like them than not like them," Brotherton says.

This is the first year for the A.N.D.Y. show. Call the Sikeston Regional Center for information on how you can get the A.N.D.Y. show to perform at your school.