PITSBURG — Kids at Franklin Monroe Elementary School enjoyed a 3D video presentation by educational performer Kid Power Friday afternoon. The event was organized by Darke County Center for the Arts (DCCA).
Kid Power’s real name is Bruce Wilson. Wilson operates a nonprofit, Kid Power Cares, based in Kansas, and travels around the country putting on shows just like this one.
Wilson portrays a number of colorful characters during the show, including Kid Power himself, who pretends to shrink himself and the kids so they can fly inside the body of Max, an elementary school student with unhealthy eating habits; Mr. Nerdmeister, a white coat-wearing science professor who explains the basic facts about nutrition and digestion; the Sugar Sheriff, who helps kids “investigate” the contents of the food they eat by reading labels and warns about the dangers of processed food; and Carlos the Designer, who teaches the kids about body image issues and unrealistic beauty standards endorsed by pop culture and the fashion industry.
Wilson urged Darke County teachers and students to be grateful for the programs DCCA offers.
“I’ve toured all over the country, and rarely do I encounter an organization that provides the sort of things that DCCA does,” Wilson said. “I know you all appreciate it, but at the same time you might have a tendency to take it for granted. So in case you think it’s normal, it’s not.”
Wilson got started with his Kid Power performances in 2009, having been inspired by a viewing of the 3D movie ‘Avatar.’
“I saw that and my team and I said, ‘Let’s see if we can do this,’” Wilson said.
He was also inspired by science fiction films like ‘Innerspace’ and ‘Minority Report,’ the former dealing with a shrinking process that allows a pilot to fly around inside another man’s body, and the latter inspiring him to have gloves created that allowed him to move icons around on his large projection screen.
Though Wilson has no formal training in medicine or nutrition, the content of his Kid Power presentations has forced him to become knowledgeable about good eating habits and health.
“While I’m thrilled to be brought in as an artist, I’m also a big believer in the subject matter,” Wilson said. “Groups like DCCA bring me in because I have a show that’s entertaining, but also educational. I had to start learning a lot because parents, teachers and chaperones would come up to me after a show and start asking questions.”
Wilson said that a lot has changed since he first began entertaining kids as Kid Power. At first, he said, schools would collect money from parents to fund field trips to some outside venue, like Memorial Hall, where Wilson would perform. Now, however, he more frequently finds himself going into actual schools at the behest of groups like DCCA, and performing for smaller groups.
“When I started, it was ‘If you build it, they will come,’” Wilson said. “Now it’s ‘If you build it and pay for it, they will come.’ People aren’t doing traditional field trips nowadays because the funding isn’t there, so we had to find more creative ways of getting people in their seats.”
WIlson has his own ideas about why shows like Kid Power can have a more lasting impact than an ordinary classroom lecture about nutrition.
“One thing that music and theater does is give us an image that lasts in our memory well beyond the initial experience,” Wilson said. “I have people come up to me years later and start singing ‘High Fructose Corn Syrup.’ That’s how I know I’m having an impact.”
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