Fort Gordon adopts puppet shows to deal with children

Puppets have proved to be such a successful tool at Fort Bragg, N.C., that Fort Gordon is looking to adopt some of its own.

"We find children connect better with the puppets than in a one-on-one briefing," said Cheryl Blankenship, of Fort Bragg's Army Community Service organization, who brought a band of puppets to Fort Gordon for a training with its Army Community Service staff on Friday.

At Fort Bragg, the puppets are used to help children deal with a parent leaving for a deployment or returning from one.

The show Far Away is about parents leaving and the types of emotions and concerns children have. Fort Bragg's show has several puppets representing children, including a girl who can be outfitted with a wheelchair, glasses and a hearing aid to relate to children with disabilities. Also, there are two adult puppets -- Sgt. I. Mike and Mr. Grumpy.

Vanessa Stanley, the head of Fort Gordon's program, said she sees many possibilities for puppets with any group on post. With a large contingent of sailors at Fort Gordon, she foresees having to have a Sailor Mike in addition to a Sgt. Mike, she said.

"I see this as another vehicle or tool to reach families," she said.

Ms. Stanley believes the puppets also could be used in child- abuse prevention seminars or to help nonmilitary children understand what military children go through.

She encouraged her staff to come up with their own scripts.

"I am really excited about this," she said.

Reach Charmain Brackett at charmain.brackett@augustachronicle.com.


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