Puppets and stories help military members connect with children

Captain Jill Lawrence and Major Tom Lawrence talk to pre-school children using their puppets
The puppets went to work this week with Captain Jill Lawrence, Canadian Forces Intelligence Command, and her husband Major Tom Lawrence, Fighter Capability Office. This is the couple’s second year talking to pre-school children as part of the Veteran’s Week Speakers Program. Photo: Submitted

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Several years ago, while posted in Winnipeg with 38 Brigade, Major Donna Riguidel needed some help communicating with young children, and sharing stories about the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). She took a chance on puppets, and was amazed at how effective two small, uniformed puppets could be.

These same two puppets went to work this week with Captain Jill Lawrence from the Canadian Forces Intelligence Command, and her husband Major Tom Lawrence with the Interim Fighter Capability Office. This is the couple’s second year talking to pre-school children as part of the Veteran’s Week Speakers Program.

Puppets Anne and Pilot Dan introduced themselves and explained that they are soldiers. They shared that part of being a soldier is conducting an inspection. The two puppets invited the class to stand so they could inspect everyone. “This is a great opportunity for each child to engage with the puppets up-close before settling in for story time,” Capt Lawrence said.

This year, the two CAF members and their stuffed companions read Finding Winnie, the story of Canadian soldier Captain Harry Colebourn and his real-life bear, Winnipeg – Winnie for short – who became the inspiration for Winnie-the-Pooh. Once story time was over, the children lined up once again to high-five the puppets.

Capt Lawrence believes children respond well to puppets because it’s something they know. “They may not understand what a soldier is just by looking at me or at my husband, but they do understand what a puppet is. When that puppet is dressed in the same uniform I’m wearing, it makes it easier for the kids to make the link between a soldier puppet and a real-life military member.”

This was the second year that Anne and Pilot Dan have visited the school and it’s always a toss-up as to who enjoys the puppets more, the children or their teachers. But for Capt Lawrence, there is no question about the difference the puppets make. “When I see the lasting impression the puppets have had on students from the year previous, it reinforces the great initiative Donna displayed all those years ago.”

For information about Veteran’s Week activities and the Speaker’s Program, visit the Veteran’s Week Intranet page (internal link).

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  • Captain Jill Lawrence and Major Tom Lawrence talk to pre-school children using their puppets
  • Captain Jill Lawrence and Major Tom Lawrence talk to pre-school children using their puppets
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