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Teaching empathy in Champion

CHAMPION — Wanting to share the message of empathy and kindness to one another, a group of Champion Middle School eighth-graders wrote scripts and performed puppet shows for second-graders at the elementary school.

“The students handled everything with the empathy program” from coordinating the storylines to putting on the puppet show, art teacher Sandy Ciminero said.

She is filming the entire project to submit for the PBS News Hour.

Delaney Schlesinger said each student wrote a story to be shared within the framework of a puppet show.

“We are teaching them about empathy and what situations might call for it. We collaborated on several stories and used the puppets,” she said.

Ciminero said she has a collection of puppets the students used.

Hayes Yocum said it was fun to be able to work together and present the puppet shows for the younger students. He said the last period of the day they went on the cafeteria stage and had each of the five second-grade classes stop by.

To share the message of empathy, the puppet shows included someone having a bad day or someone who is lonely, sad or not feeling well.

“The students have been really excited to have the puppet show and teach the message. They thought it was a great idea,” Ciminero said.

Schlesinger said she wanted to be able to connect to the second-graders.

“We wanted to make sure the information was understandable to them. Bullying can be very harmful and more than just hitting someone. It can be commenting on someone’s looks or clothing or because they may be different. The children learned that you can stick up for others,” she said.

“We adopted the second grade and have been holding activities for second-graders. From what I could see, the children loved the puppet show and were laughing and smiling.”

Alyana Wildman, 13, said people can exhibit empathy when someone falls down, has no friends, lost a pet, or is being bullied by name calling.

“We like to get the second-graders involved with the program. We ask them what they would do in each situation presented during the puppet show. What can they do to help someone who is sad or find out if there is something wrong. How would each of them feel if they had a problem?” Wildman said.

bcoupland@tribtoday.com

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