The Puppet Education Presentation Program is a free school-based public education program that uses puppets in a classroom presentation to dispel the myths and misunderstandings while lessening their fear around mental illness. Developed in 2008 and targeting children in grades 4, 5, and 6 in different schools each year, the multifaceted program educates students about severe mental illness. These engaging shows use large, brightly coloured puppets help to provide concrete information on what they can do if a friend or family member becomes ill. The program reaches more than 450 children annually.

Program objectives and key learnings for children from the Puppet Education Presentation Program include:

  • Learning that mental illness is treatable and people can get better
  • Knowing who to talk to if concerns exist about a family member or friend
  • Understanding what psychosis, withdrawing, hallucination, and delusion mean
  • Knowing what to do if a friend is being bullied due to mental illness

Currently, the BC Schizophrenia Society Northwest Regional Team is bringing the educational puppet show, “What Are Friends For,” into local communities.

Audiences share the concerns and the bewilderment of Cole’s friends and sister when Cole develops the early symptoms of psychosis. They also learn about the recovery process and the importance of friends and family. After the puppet show, a representative from Child & Youth Mental Health leads a short discussion about mental illness.

After the show, children are given a small colouring book that reinforces the messages from the show and provides them and their families with contact information for their local BCSS office.

To book a free performance of “What Are Friends For?” please call 1-888-888-0029. It is available in Terrace, Kitimat, Kitimat Village, and Prince Rupert.

What are Friends For from BC Mental Health Charities on Vimeo.

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