Rappahannock Area Kids On The Block

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Formed in 1988, Rappahannock Area Kids on the Block is a program of the Rappahannock Area Community Servies Board. The mission of the RAKOB is to educate the children of Planning District 16 about people with disabilities as well as important health and safety issues. RAKOB is an affiliate and limited licensee of The Kids on the Block Incorporated, Columbia, Maryland, USA.*

For more than 20 years, the educational puppet troupe has enthusiastically entertained and enlightened children about people with disabilities and social, health and safety issues, while teaching compassion for those who are different. RAKOB has performed for over 450,000 citizens of all ages in the greater Fredericksburg region over the years.

National Kids on the Block, Inc. was founded in 1977 by Maryland special education teacher, Barbara Aiello. The following year, the Richmond Association for Retarded Citizens (RARC) established their Kids on the Block troupe.

On March 4, 1987 that RARC invited the Rappahannock Area Community Services Board (RACSB) to co-host performances at Salem and Garrisonville Elementary Schools. Those performances sparked an immediate interest in obtaining the Kids on the Block troupe for the communities in Planning District 16. RACSB board members and employees swung into action and in1988 RAKOB, a 501-(c)3 non-profit organization, was established through RACSB.

With funding support from the community, RAKOB purchased the first script topics and puppets. With the generous support of The Fredericksburg Area Board of Realtors and Fast Mart Inc., RAKOB purchased Melody James (Cerebral Palsy), Ellen Jane Peterson (Down Syndrome), and supporting puppets Mark Riley, Jimmy Randolph, and Brenda Dubrowski.

The puppets are nearly life-size and dress and act like real children. Each has his or her own personality, and has very distinct likes and dislikes; hopes and fears; talents and limitations. The program is very upbeat, educational, and fun. All scripts are provided by the national group, Kids on the Block.

There were many hours of puppetry training and topic education with the volunteers before the first performances. In October 1988, the Caroline County Schools of Bowling Green Elementary and Lady Smith Primary were the first to experience the compassion and awareness of Mark Riley and his friends. In the next three months, RAKOB provided performances for over 4,000 children in the Fredericksburg area communities.

 

What would any group do without all the wonderful people who dedicate their time and energy helping make us who we are? It truly takes special people to get involved and make the machine run. RAKOB is always looking for volunteers as puppeteers or to just lend a hand at fundraisers and other RAKOB activities. Come join the creative and very dedicated Kids on the Block Volunteers. We can use your inspiration and talent.

To be a part of the puppet troupe (adults or teens), please contact Sherry Norton-Williams at
snorton@racsb.state.va.us
or
540-373-3223 ext. 3035

RAKOB Coordinator/ Puppeteer Sherry Norton-Williams Roberta Phillips
   
Board of Directors

Terri Bussler

  Tracy Dodson
  April Peterson
 

Michelle Wagaman

Dr. Frank Withrow

   
    Puppeteer and former Board Member Roberta Phillips with two of her fourth grade students: Kahihl and Robert.
Volunteers Puppeteers Drake Williams  
  Bailey Sergant  
  Everett Williams  
  Chris Prasse  
  Allison Dodson  
  Rachel Schneider  
  Rebecca Schneider  
  Jaren Freeze  

We are always eager to train new volunteers. Contact Sherry at 540-373-3223, ext. 3035 or snorton@racsb.state.va.us

 

The Kids on the Block, Inc. All puppets and program materials are protected by United States and other copyright laws. Unauthorized use is prohibited. All Rights Reserved.