Puppets are a great vehicle for personal body safety programs. Children are riveted and definitely carry the important messages with them. Then, I thought back to how enthralled a room full of adults could be while watching a puppet show. That’s when I started to wonder… could sexual assault presentations to high school students be done with puppets? That’s when I discovered MicheLee Puppets, Inc.
MicheLee Puppets has been educating children in Florida since 1985. Their presentation Every 90 Seconds is a 40 minute stage play that tackles the topic of sexual assault. The show involves both live actors and puppetry. One publication described it as, “…a tense drama with masks, dramatic lighting, and role-playing.” Intended for high school audiences, the message is ultimately about victims breaking the silence that surrounds their abuse.
Tracey Conner, Executive Director of MicheLee Puppets, had this to say about the production. “We’re teaching teenagers about power and control and relationships, and that sexual assault is not about sex, it’s about power.” She went on to describe the impact Every 90 Seconds has on her, “I helped write the show and I sit in the audience and cry almost every time I see it.”
The events played out on stage reflect real trauma suffered by young people in the audience. On one occasion, MicheLee Puppets brought Every 90 Seconds to a facility for children who’d been abused and, ultimately, removed from their homes. “Many of the girls in the audience were holding each other and crying throughout.” After seeing the performance, one girl was finally ready to talk about the abuse she suffered at the hands of her father. For her, talking was an important first step. “Seeing Every 90 Seconds gave her the courage to face her father in court.” Who says puppets are just for kids?
I want to leave you with a quote from Wendy Passmore-Godfrey, Artistic Director of the W.P. Puppet Theater Society…
“It may seem preposterous to suggest that puppets can change the world, but puppets working for change pop into every nook, cranny, classroom, fireside, community hall, street, hospital room, refugee tent, doctor’s office, and church around the world… A puppet’s power is its inherent nature to ‘become’ anything it’s designed to be. Puppets synthesize ideas. They are the essence of a thought, concept, or character. They can teach without qualifications; model without ego, express without consequences. They can speak for us as a proxy… When used with young audiences, they, being small themselves, can encourage children to face bigger things.”
For more about MicheLee Puppets, Inc. MicheLee Puppets
Praise for Every 90 Seconds: Community Outreach and Education
To read more about Every 90 Seconds: To Improve Health and Health Care, Volume 13