Milton--This year Kingdom Kidz Inc. has presented 150 puppet shows throughout the region.
The number will sharply increase in the coming years as the Milton-based nonprofit organization has announced plans to expand its programming.
Donna Bridge, president and CEO of Kingdom Kidz , said the organization will now feature two different divisions.
The nonprofit will continue to offer its popular Kingdom Kidz Puppet Ministry, which follows the mission statement " to share with kids of all ages the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a creative and loving manner.'
In addition, the organization will now offer a second division, known as Kidz 4 Education. "This will give us opportunities to get into schools, where we have not been able to go before," Bridge said. " This will give us the opportunity to receive grants."
Bridge said the education division has adopted the mission statement "helping kids of all ages develop outstanding social and moral values and character." In addition, the division will focus on the core values of kindness, acceptance, truth and fun.
Programs to be offered will focus on areas such as reading, safety, character building and bullying.
" With our program, as the need comes in, we will be writing programs to meet (schools) needs," Bridge said. " We are going to be writing in cooperation with the Thyra M. Hump[hreys Center for Breast Health, an awareness on breast cancer program.
She said Kidz 4 Education would also like to develop an artist in the schools program. Through the program, puppet team members would teach children skills such as puppetry and script writing while visiting a local school as part of a one week program.
Bridge said the puppet team will also be able to test how much students have learned by witnessing an educational puppet show. The teams will ask questions of the students both before and after they watch a puppet presentation.
The addition of the educational programming also means other changes in the works for Kingdom Kidz.
Bridge, who currently serves as director of the organization in addition to her position as president and CEO will be stepping away as the director position at the end of 2012 to focus on her other responsibilities.
"I will be in the schools, in the community, getting Kingdom Kidz and Kidz 4 Education well known," Bridge said. "We will be looking for a new director...The board is in prayer, for this person who will step forth."
Bridge said she has already cut back on the number of puppet programs she attends each year. Lisa Derr, has already stepped into an assistant director position with the team.
"It's very exciting for me." Bridge said of the changes with the puppet program. "It seemed as though, for 11 years, we were making little tiny steps. For the past year, we've made a giant step.
With the changes and her focus on education through the nonprofit, Bridge said her career has come full circle.
She holds both bachelor's and master's degrees in education and worked in the field for 25 years. Through her career in education, Bridge worked as both a teacher and school building principal in Mifflin County.
"it's exciting to see I'll be able to use those gifts and skills that I used earlier." Bridge said.
With all the changes to the organization and pending increase in the number of programs performed each year, Bridge said the need for volunteers to serve on the puppet team has also increased.
"People do not have to do every single program we do," Bridge said. "We will train (volunteers) in their areas of giftedness. We are looking for people from age 10 to 70 plus."
She said volunteers with the organization will need to complete an interview process and receive background clearance checks.
In addition to the need for volunteers, Bridge said Kingdom Kidz is also looking for continued prayer and support with fundraising activities from the community.
She sais input is also welcome on educational programs the ministry can add to its offerings.
"Anything we can teach, we can use a puppet," Bridge said. "Sesame Street is an example of using puppets to teach children different languages, core values."
Bridge said she is "humbled" to serve as president and CEO of Kingdom Kidz.
"My prayer is that God will surround me with the people who will make this nonprofit business grow for Him," she continued. "Kidz 4 Education will grow as Kingdom Kidz Puppet Ministry has. It's all in (God's) hands."
This article was written by Kevin Mertz, staff writer for the Standard-Journal. www.standard-journal.com