Amanda the Puppeteer

Last week our Civitan group had a very special person come to visit! Amanda came bringing her friend, Ellen Jane, who is her puppet.  Amanda is a beautiful young lady with Down Syndrome who is a puppeteer with Kids On The Block.  She did an amazing job getting across the point that people with special needs are more like us average people than unlike us.  Kids On The Block is an award-winning international educational program created in 1977 by Barbara Aiello. It was originally created when “mainstreaming” children became a law. It was designed to help introduce children with special needs into school classrooms. The program uses child size puppets to carry out its purpose.

The highly trained puppeteers use a form of puppetry called Bunraku. They are dressed in black and become shadows behind the puppet. The puppets have distinctive personalities and portray, through carefully scripted material, a world of real life situations. As the puppets come to life, children identify with them and open up to them as if they were trusted friends.  It is a wonderful way to help children as well as adults understand that people with special needs are people just like them who have the same interests, needs, feelings and desires that they have.

About 2 1/2 years ago Amanda’s mother heard that Les Passees Kids On The Block,  a branch of Les Passees which is a women’s volunteer organization, was looking for someone with Down Syndrome who would be a puppeteer as a self-advocate. Amanda tried out for the part and got it! At first she worked with an old Ellen Jane puppet that had a lot of problems. The story of how she got her new Ellen Jane is amazing.  This is how her mother tells the story:

“Les Passes had an old Ellen Jane Peterson puppet and at one of the first training
sessions, Amanda asked the instructor, “What is wrong with Ellen Jane?” and
the instructor said, “Well, Amanda, she has Down syndrome.” Amanda replied,
“No, I know that — she doesn’t have any shoulders or knees.” Everyone cracked up
laughing. Needless to say, Amanda gave a presentation to the Bartlett Civitan Club
telling them of the need for a new Ellen Jane. They granted funds to DSAM and purchased
Amanda a brand new Ellen Jane that cost $850. Amanda was thrilled. This one has
knees and shoulders.”

Amanda has a dream, which is to set a good example and show people just how capable people with Down Syndrome are.

She puts it this way, “There are so many things that I and others with Down Syndrome can do. When people hear Down Syndrome, instead of a pitiful or confused look, I want them to have a smile of acceptance and understanding, just like I do. I hope that my efforts will make it easier for others with Down Syndrome to be accepted and understood.”

What an inspiration she is!

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13 Responses to Amanda the Puppeteer

  1. Donna says:

    Great article. That’s my girl!

  2. Kim Mitchell says:

    She is a living testimony to the love of God. Amanda is a special young woman

  3. Regina says:


  4. Craig Gyergyo says:

    Amanda – you are living the dream! You are a wonderful example to everyone with your positive outlook and love for all people. I am blessed just to know you!

    And you are quite capable – more than capable you are gifted!


  5. Carol LaGraize says:

    Amanda Cash needs her own reality show!
    Amanda does her own make-up..her own hair..she loves to shop for her clothes and when you meet her there is something so special that you feel you have received an extra blessing! Congratulations to her Mom!! One fine woman raising another!

  6. Barbara Baldwin says:

    Amanda is an amazing person. Her honesty, her compassion for others, her zest for life is so contagious – attributes I only wish I could possess 1/2 as much as she does.

  7. Ellen Fisher Martin says:

    Amanda, as someone who knows and loves you and your family, your such a true blessing and inspiration to all!

  8. Jim Hodges says:

    This is a great story about a beautiful young lady and her wonderful mother.

  9. Chris Smith says:

    I feel blessed to have gotten a chance to be friends with Amanda and Donna. They have both been instrumental in helping me make a positive difference in lives of others as well as my own life. I do have a smile of acceptance and understanding when I see Amanda. It is hard not to smile when you see her because she is always so upbeat and willing to help in any way. Keep on being who you are Amanda. God light shines bright through you.

  10. Lori Lee says:

    Amanda is such a hard-working young lady! She is very talented and has an amazing sweet spirit to go with the skill. She is an inspiration and I am glad she is my friend!

  11. Sharon Avery-Fields says:

    Amanda, you are such a wonderful young woman. God is smiling on you!

    I love you,
    Ms. Sharon

  12. Cindy Mulford says:

    I know Amanda and her mom personally. We go to Hope Presbyterian Church together. Donna, her mom, is a wonderful inspiration. She is so supportive of Amanda! Amanda enjoys her life and cares about others’ needs. The picture of her in this article is truly beautiful. I’m so proud of what she is doing for “Kids on the Block”. She’s truly an appropriate representative.I’m just so thrilled for her.Thank you!!

  13. Yes, she is a beautiful girl! God is using her in an amazing way!

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