New show uses power of puppets to talk tough topics with kids

STEAMpossible promotes healthy choices among kids using puppets

By Kirstin O’Connor - Reporter/Anchor

ORLANDO, Fla. - A new show is taking kids on a magical adventure that combines the science of space technology with themes about disability awareness.

Marcus Quest, a puppet with a wealth of knowledge, is the star of the new show “Mission STEAMpossible.”

Tracey Conner creates the show’s magic using her voice.

"You gotta have voices. You gotta have character voices. That's really important, " Conner said.

For the past 32 years, Conner and her team at MicheLee Puppets have been performing to promote healthy choices for kids in Central Florida.

"I think that when we bring this inanimate object to life, and we do our job right, that inanimate object is real, to whoever is sitting there, even an adult, talking to this puppet, Conner said.

She said the puppets help because children don’t feel intimidated by them. Instead, they feel like they can actually relate to them.

"They can talk to puppets and say things that they wouldn't talk to a real person, and they can talk through puppets,” Conner said.

The puppets are teaching lessons about bullying, health and hygiene and even domestic violence at the request of schools and social service agencies.

"The victim service center came to us and said, ‘Can you use your craft, your skills to teach teenagers about sexual assault prevention?’ And we did," Conner said. 

She said since doing that, she’s seen cases of children disclosing child abuse for the first time and even teenagers coming forward and reporting rapes that had happened years in the past because they had seen their play.

Stacy Taylor, principal of Advance Learning in Maitland, said hearing it from a puppet and getting to experience a lesson from a puppet that’s used as another source of information makes it easier for some kids to understand it better.

MicheLee Puppets is making a difference for more than 2 million children around the world by bringing puppets to the Philippines and Zambia. It even has a new translated version for Finnish audiences.

"The depth and breadth of what we have accomplished over the last 32 years is way beyond anything I could have ever dreamed," Conner said.

And that’s all through the power of puppets.

See the show this summer by visiting Venue on the Lake Sundays at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

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