Creating “Bully Free Friends: Everyone’s a Star” Puppet Show

by Maggie Perkins, Senior Nutrition Health Educator

I was given the job to complete the Poe Center’s bullying prevention puppet show, Bully Free Friends: Everyone’s a Star, for preschool through second grade students.  Many hours of hard work had already gone into this project but some final touches needed to be made before the show’s big debut. I was given a script that Poe Center health educators created, two songs that were recorded by our educators and a uniquely designed puppet stage.
 
After reviewing the script for the first time I immediately connected with the characters and my heart went out to the star performer, Star Fruit.  Star Fruit tells the audience about her very first day at preschool and shares some of the challenges she faced. The energetic cast of characters includes Curtis Carrot, Angie Apple and Mr. Monkey Ray.  Did you notice that many of our characters are fruits and vegetables? It’s not surprising the Poe Center picked produce as the cast because of our great appreciation of fruits and vegetables. After reading and enjoying the script, I realized one health educator had to perform the puppet show with four characters and that is where my work began!
 
The Poe Center connected with Horizon Productions to professionally record the script. The opportunity to record the script was fascinating and the Poe Health staff that recorded the character’s voices were in awe at the equipment and set up of the recording studio.  This great experience really added a fine touch to the puppet show with music, sounds and fun surprises.
 
Many more hours of work were put into prop development and engineering before the Bully Free Friends team had completed the program. It was now time to test it out on an audience. The Poe Center’s Healthy Habits Camp participants were the first to view the program.  The response from our campers was amazing! Bully Free Friends sparked conversations among the campers about friendship and kindness. Although the program is targeted towards preschool through second grade students, we found that kids of all ages enjoy it. Even the older campers identified with the plot line. Because the program made a positive impact on the camper’s behavior, Bully Free Friends: Everyone’s a Star will now be integrated into the first day of Healthy Habits Camp to reinforce the importance of sharing and treating everyone with respect.
 
Poe Center Staff are very proud of our Bully Free Friends: Everyone’s a Star program and we are excited to share this program with the children of North Carolina.  To schedule your Bully Free Friends: Everyone’s a Star session contact Kate Mascho at 919-231-4006 ext. 399 or k.mascho@poehealth.org.