“Back to School” Puppet Program for Families with NYC Kids Project 

When: Sunday, September 12, 2021, 10:30am

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A group of two adult women and four "kid" puppets. One puppet is in a wheelchair, three are standing.
  • Family Programs are geared to families with children ages 7–12 years old and are intergenerational for adults to attend with their children.  
  • Masks must be worn at all times by all participants older than 2 years old. Socially distanced seating is limited and advanced registration is required.  

Join this interactive, outdoor performance led by NYC Kids Project at the Museum of the City of New York to explore feelings about going back to school and reconnecting with classmates.   

NYC Kids Project will use large-scale puppet characters of all abilities, sign language, and storytelling to teach inclusion and respect for all.  Three characters —Renaldo, Mark, and Melody—will discuss everyday struggles and model conflict/resolution, empathy, and problem-solving. Participants will get to know the characters through their storytelling and ask questions and interact with the puppets. There will also be movement activities, moments of mindfulness and reflection, and music. The underlying message throughout the workshop will be recognizing the strengths and joys of differences and how we are all connected by our need for each other and to be understood, accepted, and celebrated.   

Graphic showing two hands - the symbol for sign language interpretation.


This performance will be interpreted into American Sign Language (ASL).




Event Timeline:

10am: Doors open and families can begin seating.
10:30am: Performance begins. 

Rain Date: Sunday, September 12, 10:30am.  

Meet the Puppets:

Mark Reilly 
“As a 10-year-old superstar (haha in my mind), I like to play basketball, science is my favorite subject, and I dream of racing in the NYC marathon one day. I’ve been told I’m pretty funny, too. I’m also one-half of a great team - I have a twin brother named Mike who looks just like me EXCEPT for the cruiser (my wheelchair’s nickname). And I have cerebral palsy, he doesn’t. Sometimes it’s annoying when people pay a lot of attention to my cruiser, but it’s how I get around every day, so I’m ok with people being curious. But having CP is something that’s a part of me, not all of me.”  

Renaldo Rodriguez 
“’My age is ten,  
My friends are fun,  
Check out my white cane,  
That's how I get things done’ 
Proud to like poetry, rap, reading, (I use Braille) writing, and having a great time playing beeper baseball on my baseball team. In case you didn’t notice from my picture, I’m blind.  But that doesn’t stop me from doing anything. Ok, well maybe I won’t grow up to be an airplane pilot— but I do want to travel after college with the guide dog I’m going to get!”  

Melody James 
“Kids rule!  I’m ten years old and I have a lot of energy. I think having ADHD is like having a superpower. I can do a lot of things all at once, and also, sometimes I need to take a deep breath and slow down! I’ve become a social justice activist in the past few years. I like dancing, music, history, and making chocolate chip cookies.  I wear glasses for reading in school and at home. I would like to be a reporter when I grow up and travel around the world telling stories about all different kinds of people. Everyone deserves their story to be heard and respected.”  

About the Performers:

NYC Kids Project is an arts/education organization advocating empathy, acceptance, and inclusion. Performances/classroom visits include the use of large theatrical puppets, storytelling, and sign-language--as well as an extensive question and answer period. The focus is on character development and social/emotional learning. Audiences talk with our puppet characters to ask questions about belonging and understanding others. They are encouraged to examine attitudes surrounding disabilities and differences while fostering empathy and an awareness of what truly connects us all.  

To learn more about NYC Kids Project, visit https://nyc-kidsproject.squarespace.com/ 

Image of Cecelia Arana, co-founder and co-director of NYC Kids Project. Image of Mindy Pfeffer, co-founder and co-director of NYC Kids Project.
Left: Photograph by Sharon Schuur photography, Right: Photograph by Tate Tullier

Cecilia Arana and Mindy Pfeffer are the co-founders and co-directors of NYC Kids Project. They have been working in the schools and communities with NYC Kids Project for many years, and have extensive experience as teaching artists and theatre artists. Cecilia is also a singer and Mindy is a playwright and they bring these skills to their work with NYC Kids Project. 

Things to Note:

This session is also offered at 1:00 pm.

Free. Advance registration is required. Capacity for each event is limited. 

Safety Guidelines and Expectations for Onsite Family Programs: 

  • Proof of vaccination and a valid I.D. is required for entry to the event (everyone over the age of 12), so please plan ahead! Original vaccination card, Excelsior Pass, or NYC COVID Safe Pass is accepted. 
  • Masks will be required by all participants older than 2 years old, both indoors and outdoors.
  • For more information about the Museum’s COVID Guidelines, please check our "Plan Your Visit" page.

The Museum has guidelines in place for staff, performers, and visitors to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone. Before you attend our programs, please familiarize yourself with these protocols and our Frequently Asked Questions here.  

Masks must be worn at all times by all participants older than 2 years old. Advanced registration required for socially distanced seating.  

You can find details on the Museum’s Courtesy Code here, and our enhanced cleaning schedule and procedures here.  

The safety plan and visitor guidelines are subject to change in accordance with federal, state, and city guidelines, rules and regulations, and other health and safety recommendations. Please continue to visit this page for the most up-to-date information.   

If you are unable to visit us, please check out our MCNY Kids Create page for an array of digital and recorded offerings that you can enjoy remotely.  

Expectations for Participation in the Museum’s Programs:  

Participants are required to stay home if anyone in their party in the last 14 days has:  

  • Had any COVID-19 related symptoms (including, but not limited to: fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea).  

  • Received a positive result from a COVID-19 test or been advised by a medical provider to remain home because of COVID-19 and/or cared for or come into close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19.  

  • Traveled to any state, country, or other location that would require you to quarantine according to CDC Guidelines CDC Domestic Travel Guidelines and CDC International Travel Guidelines   

Museum visitors who experience COVID-related symptoms while at the Museum of the City of New York agree to self-identify to Museum staff for contact tracing purposes and exit the Museum to decrease exposure to other visitors.   

To enable contact tracing, in case of an exposure event, you will be asked to volunteer your contact information. An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public space where people are present. Those visiting the Museum of the City of New York do so at their own risk of exposure.   

During the Museum’s Programs:  

Family and community programs are geared to children and we require that all participants follow these guidelines.  

  • All participants ages 2 + must wear a mask at all times that cover the nose and mouth. Please wear a mask.  

  • Adhere to social distancing markers set up at the performance. Maintain 6-feet (2m) social distance with others outside your group.  

  • Wash hands frequently and use hand sanitizing stations.   

  • Do not touch your face with unwashed hands. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when sneezing or coughing.  

  • No eating or drinking is allowed in performance spaces. If you wish to eat or drink you may visit the 2nd-floor café.  

  • Please follow the instructions of security guards and other Museum staff.  

  • We reserve the right to request that any visitors who do not follow these protocols leave the premises.  

Participants are encouraged to complete a health screening form and include their contact information upon arrival, and will be seated by Museum staff who will facilitate socially distanced seating.   


The Puppets of New York performance series is part of the Arts Al Fresco Series made possible by Con Edison.    

Arts al Fresco logo

Family and Community Engagement Programs are made possible in part by the Margaret S. Ogden and Stephen A. Ogden Memorial Fund, Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation, and Tianaderrah Foundation. Additional support provided by Council Members Diana Ayala - District 8, Bill Perkins - District 9, and Keith Powers - District 4. 

The Frederick A.O. Schwarz Education Center is endowed by grants from The Thompson Family Foundation Fund, the F.A.O. Schwarz Family Foundation, the William Randolph Hearst Endowment, and other generous donors.  

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