West Iron students raise awareness on what it means to have a disability

CRYSTAL FALLS, Mich. (WLUC) - 'The Kids on the Block' is a troupe of 'educational puppets' used to let children ask questions about what it means to have a disability.

"Each one has a different disability and we're showing the kids that it's alright to be different, it's alright to have a disability and at the same time how to get along with them if they do have a disability," said Steven Nelson, Co-Director of West Iron School District's 'The Kids on the Block.'

Students from West Iron School District met at Forest Park School the morning of February 14 and their puppets have a range of physical and mental disabilities including autism, cerebral palsy and blindness and the troupe says elementary students are the perfect audience.

"I think a show like this is important because there's so many kids out there that feel different or they feel like an outsider and they can't find their niche or their group," said James Swanson, Co Host. "I think stuff like this can really just bring people like that closer and just make them feel welcomed and like they have someone to talk to."

Even though 'The Kids on the Block' thinks today's performances are fun and presented in a non-threatening way, it helps foster important conversation.

"I think it's just a cool message to send out there that people who like, are 'different,' are okay," said James.

"I also have a disability, I have a hearing thing I'm deaf in one ear," said Turner Bociek, a puppeteer in the production. "It means a lot to be in this show because that way I can teach other kids what it's like to have disabilities."

The West Iron students perform three shows per school year and typically for an audience of third through fifth graders.

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