Puppets make presentations powerful, fun

Wednesday, May 2, 2007
South Putnam High School freshmen Wesley McKinney (left) and Heath Schlatter perform a puppet power skit during the Mental Health America of Putnam County annual meeting Tuesday.

Those in attendance at Tuesday's Mental Health America of Putnam County annual meeting were treated to two puppet power presentations offered by members of Junior Mental Health America of Putnam County.

Three South Putnam High School students and one North Putnam student offered the presentations to a packed Putnam County Museum Tuesday.

MHAPC member Carol Emery said the program is in its 10th year. Students involved in the presentations have traveled to all the county school corporations, delivering messages regarding several topics, including abuse, smoking and self-confidence.

"The whole purpose is to help children have information that will help empower them to make good choices and be safe," Emery said.

SPHS freshmen Heath Schlatter and Wesley McKinney were up first Tuesday. They performed the skit, "I Can Do It," which helps children with self-confidence.

Schlatter said he has enjoyed the performances.

"I like to teach younger people lessons about life," Schlatter said. "I like to be someone people can look up to."

McKinney had some big shoes to fill. His brother, Marcus, performed skits in the program for several years before graduating from SPHS in 2006.

"They (the elementary students) love it," Wesley said. "I get the feeling they're actually learning something from it."

SPHS junior Danielle McHugh and NPHS junior Anita Davis followed McKinney and Schlatter with the skit "Be Smart, Don't Start," regarding smoking.

Emery said McHugh and Davis both performed the skit to fourth graders countywide during Red Ribbon Week.

Like Schlatter, Davis said she enjoyed teaching the younger students about the dangers of smoking.

"I've learned how important it is to warn kids about the dangers (smoking) can cause," she said. "(The students) have a lot of questions. Good questions."

McHugh added the puppets keep the children's attention.

"I think the puppets help them," McHugh said.

Emery added SPHS senior Megan Robinson and junior Meghan Canary have also traveled to school corporations within Putnam County to perform child abuse skits.

Emery said the program has 11 puppets, all designed by Greencastle artist Kace Huber.

She added the program is working on skits for students in preschool and kindergarten.

"The students are continuing to training," Emery said.

MHAPC Board President Susan Stewart added the programs are very useful.

"It's affected hundreds of children in the county," Stewart said.

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