Many programs funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation aim at changing policy or developing innovative programs that have the potential to be picked up by government and expanded throughout the nation. Others have the more modest aspiration of simply trying to improve the health or health care of individuals. MicheLee Puppets, which is funded by the Foundation’s Local Funding Partners program, is one of the latter—in particular, helping Florida schoolchildren lead healthier lives.
The Foundation long ago discovered that television, movies and celebrities can be employed to deliver health messages. It is only a small step for puppets to do the same thing, following the lead of the Muppets, who have been educating young children since 1969.
As Digby Diehl, most recently the co-author with Bob Barker of Priceless Memories and a frequent contributor to the Anthology series, recounts in chapter 10, MicheLee Puppets travel throughout Florida, providing an entertaining—even rollicking—show for the state’s schoolchildren. But the show is not just fun and entertainment. The puppets highlight ways that elementary schoolchildren can eat more nutritious food and be healthier. And the children bring that message home to their parents. MicheLee Puppets mesh nicely with the Foundation’s priority of reducing the epidemic of childhood obesity in the nation.
If any readers are doubtful about the potential of puppet power, we urge them to watch the video of MicheLee troupe’s Rico B. Kuhl’s hip-hop rendition of I Drinky Water. It can be found on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrXXcyyrTqE. Once you’ve seen I Drinky Water, you’ll think twice about drinking cola again.