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“...It's great to hear kids come to you after and say I learned something from your show..."

 

        Public awareness and education is something that is valued at the Independent Living Centre. Breaking down attitudinal barriers, and increasing acceptance of our neighbours living with disabilities is what our Kids on the Block program does. Kids on the Block is a puppet show that teaches children throughout Waterloo Region about topics around disability and accessibility.

         KOB volunteer Liz Reuss plays a big part in making this education for children possible. She is a retired elementary school teacher, now volunteer puppeteer who has been with ILC for 6 years. Liz fist became involved with ILCWR when she retired from her elementary school teaching job at St. Anne’s Catholic School in Kitchener, and was looking for a way to stay involved in the community. She kept her eye out for opportunities, but nothing caught her attention. Liz was looking for something more than what a regular volunteer job provided she wanted to give back and have fun while doing it. When she heard about the position to be a volunteer puppeteer at ILCWR Liz thought it would be a perfect fit, a way to have fun, try out some drama, learn and keep in touch with young children.

         When asked what makes Liz such a strong advocator for the program she says, “You can see how much the teachers and parents appreciate the fact that we aren’t just doing another puppet show, our show has an important message for children.” She knows the kids are learning and she is doing some good to start the discussion of disability. “We are educating the children on how to interact with people with disabilities and bringing the proper attitudes on disability to children of young ages. It is a great feeling to know that one day when issues come up these kids will be properly equipped to deal with situations in the right way."

         The greatest success Liz says is the appreciation they receive form teachers and schools. “It makes you feel good when we are called back to so many of the schools. It makes you feel like what we did was needed and helped the situation.” This is what the Kids on the block show does it prepares kids to deal difficult situations and become more accepting of their peers. Liz finds it most rewarding when the children come up to her after the show, “It’s great to hear kids come to you after and say I learned something from your show or I can relate to your show because my brother has a disability”.

           We asked what her favourite part about working with The Independent Living Centre and KOB is Liz said, “ILC has made me feel very welcome. You feel like you’re part of a family here. It’s just a great atmosphere and I feel good about the work I’m doing with this organization through Kids on the Block.” That’s what makes her most proud that her volunteer hours are promoting a positive mandate to the community. “ILC promotes the person and advocates for independence so that any person living with a disability is accepted for who they are. They give people the ability to live an independent life.”

         Kids on the Block is taking off these days the program has presented in over 81 schools and touched 4,322  kids, just this year alone. “This is a fabulous program-my kids love it. I cant wait to book another show” says a teacher at John Manhood P.S. Its volunteers like Liz that make this program such a success, take it from Laurel Church “very enthusiastic individuals. You can tell they love what they do!” This attitude is defiantly exemplified in Liz Reuess. Volunteers are what make KOB possible, they bring in an attitude that brings life to the show and as an organization we forever appreciative of all they do.

 

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