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Below The Surface

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Makings of a Beautiful Friendship

As the AmeriCorps member here at ECHO I have the privilege of working with the preschool science play program in partnership with the YMCA.  Part of my responsibility is to assist the YMCA facilitator by interacting with the caretakers as well as encourage the little ones to partake of the various learning play stations. This is part of the Early Learning Readiness program (ELR) that began in January here at ECHO.

Children, teens and young adults are a lively, engaging and "dramatic" bunch and they always make my days interesting. It's fun to assist them in channeling their natural energies into programs and projects that can help them grow personally, creatively, socially and intellectually.

From left to right Agoth, little brother Passy,
Older brother Kennedy and Johaly. Agoth and Johaly
participated in the Improvise Me workshop.
From this idea a new budding relationship between North End Studios and ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center has emerged. Together we've created a program for children that would allow them to deliver a message of stewardship and environmental caring through various dramatic presentations.

The first workshop, Improvise me, was a collaboration of theatrical expression intertwined with the participant’s natural imagination that resulted in the actors becoming the story line while the popular Dr. Seuss story, “ Oh The Places You’ll Go “ was narrated. The children learned about team work and character building. They also learned about the transition of a story line and the importance of conveying a meaningful story to their audience. From an artist point of view, showing the youth how to bring their natural talent alive was challenging but a wonderful experience.

You can check out a glimpse of their performance here:


Watching the wide grins appear on their faces as they came up with something clever to do and seeing them enjoy working together as a team was priceless.

We are now working on our second workshop, Puppetry and the Environment, which teaches the importance of being responsible stewards of not only Lake Champlain but also places outside of our region that may get neglected or taken for granted. During this program the children will enjoy a field trip to ECHO to learn more about the Lake and the things they can do that will have positive impact on the health of the Lake Champlain Basin. At ECHO we call this the "one drop" concept, where one decision or action can create ripples of positive results. The students will use what they have learned at ECHO for the basis of their puppet creations and story line.

Workshop II, Puppetry and the Environment is a free 6-week workshop that will be held at North End Studios Mondays and Wednesdays from 3-5 pm Starting April 7th 2014 through May 14, 2014. The workshop will culminate in a public performance by the students at ECHO on May 15, 2014.

Teaching children at a very young age, about the importance of taking care of our world not only instills
in them a sense of pride for where they live but it encourages them to educate others. It is important to create life-long learners and educators about our beautiful region and the earlier we can impart this knowledge and enthusiasm, the better off we will all be.

Here is ECHO's full "One Drop" message: 
All it takes is one drop to change our world
To make a difference
To create a ripple that moves and rolls and merges with other ripples
A perpetual motion of change and evolution
One building on the other, one dependent upon the other
All starting with one drop… 
To change an action
Change direction
Change a mind.

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