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Volunteers train to present anti-bullying program using puppets

Above, Park Rapids puppeteers-in-training are, from left, Florence Hedeen, Missie Vrieze, Jo Judson, Beth Baker-Knuttila, Jackie Willms, Terry Morris, Coral Schmitz and Sheila Ronnebaum. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)1 / 2
At right, PACER Center Puppet Program trainers Charlotte Green and Lynn Dennis demonstrate an anti-bullying skit with puppets. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)2 / 2

Park Rapids volunteers received intense training this week on how to perform a puppet show for students about bullying prevention.

The PACER Center Puppet Program training is sponsored by Headwaters Intervention Center (HIC).

Wednesday, trainers Lynn Dennis and Charlotte Green met with Park Rapids volunteers and school staff about the puppet program.

Florence Hedeen, HIC board member, said a puppet program called "Let's Prevent Abuse" has been performed at Park Rapids, Nevis and Laporte schools for 10 years. This year, the program is changing to "Kids Against Bullying."

The "Kids Against Bullying" program helps children and adults learn about bullying prevention. It features five endearing multicultural, child-size puppets that portray children with and without disabilities. These puppets have proven to be a comfortable medium through which to teach children about bullying prevention. Opportunities exist throughout the presentation for children to learn through dialogue and question and answer.

"This program has always been supported thoroughly by the schools," Hedeen said. "It's very research-based and kids react well to it."

The PACER puppets are being purchased through grants from Itasca-Mantrap Electrical Cooperative, Riverside United Methodist Church and monetary donations.

Volunteers and staff will practice most of the year and plan to appear before students in the spring.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561