Third-grader Jason successfully convinced his friend Nam to head home and watch a movie instead of meeting up with a group of sixth-graders to egg and toilet paper houses.

Third-grader Jason successfully convinced his friend Nam to head home and watch a movie instead of meeting up with a group of sixth-graders to egg and toilet paper houses.

Joanne told Stephen how she told "trusted adults" about her mother's boyfriend inappropriately touching her.

Stephen talked about how he and his mom got help from social services when he told his teacher that his mom beat him out of anger.

Jason, Nam, Joanne and Stephen are life-sized puppets, characters of the skits presented by the Grady Bunch Kids on the Block program.

The program was presented to third-grade students at Olentangy's Alum Creek Elementary School.

The Kids on the Block program began in 1977 in response to U.S. Public Law 94-142, which required that children with special needs be educated in the least restrictive environment, primarily mainstreamed into a regular classroom.

The first puppet character was Mark Riley, a child with cerebral palsy, who helped non-disabled children understand and accept their disabled peers.

Rebecca Tyne introduced the program to Grady in early 2007.

Tyne started working with a similar program in Columbus in the early 1980s after seeing an advertisement in a local paper looking for puppeteers.

With five grandchildren living and attending school in Delaware County she decided to start the local program.

Because the program is funded primarily through grants, which require recipients to be a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization, she associated the local program with Grady's foundation.

The program is provided free for any elementary school in Delaware County. For the past few years, she and her group of 19 volunteers have gone mainly into Delaware, Big Walnut and Buckeye Valley. Recently, her group started performances in the Olentangy district, which had presented its own program for a number of years.

Parents receive a letter and brochure that describe Grady's program.

A few parents have chosen to sit in on a performance.

Grady's Kids on the Block program uses child-sized puppets to educate children about bullying, physical abuse, sexual abuse and vandalism prevention. The volunteer puppeteers dress in black and appear as shadows behind the puppets.

Presenting serious subjects with a puppet show makes it approachable for children, said Jayne Ensminger, a third-grade teacher at Alum Creek.

"It's excellent because (the skits) deal with very sensitive issues and the kids can relate to the puppets," she said, noting that the skits presented are part of the third-grade health curriculum in which the students are taught about bullying and strangers.

As the puppets start talking and interacting, the children's focus is drawn to them, not their operators, Tyne said. During each scripted program, children are encouraged to ask questions.

Some want to talk, while others asked questions that are related to what they were hearing.

"We don't go into adult answers, we keep them at their level," Tyne said.

In some cases, guidance counselors will tell the puppeteers to watch for children they suspect might be having problems and to call on them if they raise their hands, she said.

Guidance counselors also watch those children for their reaction to the programs.

"Some will go into themselves or won't look at us," Tyne said.

While teachers and guidance counselors are mandated by law to report suspected child abuse, the puppeteers are not.

"Our role is to do the show and leave" and let those trained to identify suspected abuse to intervene, she said.