Melody James love to tell jokes, explore the outdoors and play with her guinea pig. Starting April 13, you’ll be able to follow her adventures weekdays online.
Melody, who’s 12, is a member of Kids on the Block (KOB), a puppet troupe founded by Barbara Aiello in 1977 to introduce students in school classrooms across the country to children with special needs. WhyArts, in partnership with the University of Nebraska Medical Center Munroe-Meyer Institute, is reintroducing these puppets to the Omaha community.
The woman behind Melody is Stephanie Anderson, program director at WhyArts. Anderson, a local actor, will take Melody on a series of adventures in “Melody’s World” Monday through Friday at 1:00pm via Zoom. Melody also will be trying her hand at reporting when she checks in with other members of the KOB troupe as well as WhyArts teaching artists on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This programming is hosted by Gotta Be Me at https://zoom.us/j/3207398650, and the password is 20.
Two other WhyArts teaching artists will give voice and life to a pair of Melody’s puppet friends. WhyArts teaching artist Nils Haaland is red-headed Mark Riley, a 12-year-old who insists he’s not confined to anything, especially his wheelchair. Theresa Sindelar, another WhyArts teaching artist, is Ellen Jane Peterson, a 17-year-old veterinary assistant who has Down syndrome.
Viewers and fans will be able to send their questions and comments to Melody James at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The goal of the show, said WhyArts Executive Director Kim Jubenville, is to provide a group of the organization’s community partners with free, online arts-related programming during the COVID-19 crisis. “The Kids on The Block are the perfect ambassadors for this outreach – they are funny, curious and eager to start conversations,” Jubenville said. “We know puppets have magical powers that cross all sorts of barriers and age groups — so come join Melody James, Ellen, Mark and friends on their adventures.”
For more information about Kids on the Block, contact Anderson at email@example.com. To support Kids on the Block programming by donation, contact Jubenville at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about Gotta Be Me, visit www.gottabeme.org.