Atlanta’s Center for Puppetry Arts is teaming up with the Hispanic Health Coalition of Georgia to develop a program advancing health policies and practices for Hispanic children living in Georgia using the center’s cutting-edge, point-to-point interactive videoconferencing technology.
Sara Burmenko, the center’s director of distance learning, told Global Atlanta that its programs such as “Making Healthy Choices” and “Mr. Kolahi’s Long List” already provide schools and other organizations access to health-related instruction without costly travel expenses.
The program with the Hispanic Health Coalition will not only provide bilingual sessions in English and Spanish but will have specially designed puppet-making sessions for the Hispanic children promoting healthy lifestyle choices. The puppet known as “Little Noodle,” for instance, is actually made out of noodles. By making “Little Noodle,” the children can learn different body parts and how to take care of them, she said.
The sessions are to be designed to enlighten the students and their parents about serious health and lifestyle issues such as practicing hygiene, choosing healthy meals and exercising in ways that are fun and accessible.
Ms. Burmenko underscored the success of the center’s programs based on professional evaluations of the students’ learning retention through its “all live, award-winning videoconferencing.”
“The way that our studio is set up with two monitors, we can see the students and even talk to them using their names while they look at us,” she added. “There is no streaming. It’s all live and very interactive. It’s really just like being in the classroom.”
Sponsored by the Home Depot Foundation’s Building Community Network, the program matches the artistic talents, technical resources and digital reach of the center’s distance learning programming with the cultural knowledge and expertise of the Hispanic Health Coalition to improve the well-being of the Hispanic/Latino community in the state.
Shirley Borghi, executive director and co-vice chair of the Hispanic Health Coalition of Georgia, said in a Feb. 8 news release about the initiative, “We know it’s hard to get young people to do some of the things they need to do. But if we can make it fun, engaging and interactive, we increase our chances of helping them make the lifestyle changes they need for a healthier life and increased sustainability.”
She pointed to rising rates of diabetes, Types I and II in adults and youth, as a particular cause of distress in Hispanic communities, primarily caused by poor dietary choices and increasingly sedentary lifestyles.
The Hispanic Health Coalition of Georgia is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1990 to advance health policies that will improve access to services for Hispanic children and adults throughout the state.
The Center for Puppetry Arts since its founding in 1978 by Vincent Anthony has introduced millions of visitors to the art of puppetry through its many performances, curriculum-based workshops and the hands-on museum as well as distance learning and outreach programs.
The center’s distance learning programs are now available in nine different countries and 50 states.
“This summer we became available in Serbia and Rhodes Island is the last state to participate,” Ms. Burmenko said. She added that if it weren’t for time differences around the world more countries would be able to participate, but as examples of their reach she pointed to the many programs the center conducts with First Nation people in Canada.
To learn more about the initiative, Ms. Burmenko may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.