THE SHOW GOES ON FOR LO­CAL YOUTH

In its 32nd sea­son, Kings Kids Pro­gram con­tin­ues to make dif­fer­ence for area kids

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - Free­man staff

KINGSTON >> The Kings Kids Pro­gram, in its 32nd year, of­fers per­form­ing arts pro­grams in act­ing, singing and danc­ing and also pub­lic speak­ing to lo­cal kids in kin­der­garten through 12th grade.

Ral­phine Childs, Kings Kids pro­gram di­rec­tor, said these ac­tiv­i­ties en­cour­age kids and build their self-es­teem.

This pro­gram helps young peo­ple to grow up and be­come “out­stand­ing cit­i­zens in the com­mu­nity,” she said.

Childs said the pro­gram serves an av­er­age of 40-50 kids each spring or fall. The kids, who come from all over the Kingston Area, New Paltz, Sauger­ties, New­burgh and Mid­dle­town, take part in mu­si­cals — some orig­i­nal, some pur­chased.

Re­cently, Childs dis­cussed the pro­gram as kids ar­rived at her Kingston home for their first re­hearsal for this sea­son’s mu­si­cal, a Christ­mas-themed va­ri­ety show slated to be per­formed on Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. at Pointe of Praise Church at 243 Hur­ley Av­enue.

“We want to give the kids an op­por­tu­nity to show­case their tal­ents, some of their cre­ativ­ity,” Childs said.

Sub­mis­sions are be­ing ac­cepted up through Dec. 5 for those in­ter­ested in sign­ing up

Childs said she can’t wait for re­hearsals to be­gin.

“Ev­ery­body that knows me well knows I love Christ­mas, so any­thing that has to do with Christ­mas, I’m like a kid in a candy store.” Childs said. “It’s hap­pen­ing, it’s start­ing tonight. “Yes” Go­ing into re­hearsals, held in her base­ment, she said some of the kids al­ready know what they want to do, while oth­ers are still seek­ing out their call­ing.

“Some of them, find their own way, oth­ers we’ll help,” Childs said. “We don’t turn any kid away. We find what their strengths are and plug them in.”

Once they get go­ing, the kids will spend ap­prox­i­mately two to three hours a week on the pro­duc­tion, she said

“As we get closer to show time, the hours in­crease to make sure ev­ery­thing is ready,” Childs said.

Childs said she be­gan brain­storm­ing ideas for this year’s show soon after last year’s pro­duc­tion closed. By last sum­mer she said she re­ally stepped up her work.

“That way when we get to the fall, it’s ready to go,” Childs said.

Childs said in the past they’ve per­formed at Pointe of Praise Church, the Ul­ster Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter, on Off-Broad­way tours closer to New York City and at the his­toric Proc­tors Theater in Sch­enec­tady. The shows have been writ­ten by the kids or her hus­band and her­self, she said, ad­ding that her sis­ter also wrote one show.

On top of the mu­si­cals, the kids make a “sit­com” each sum­mer.

“We teach the kids how to cre­ate their own lit­tle mini show,” Childs said.

The kids have come up with many unique ideas in­clud­ing a show where they played su­per­heroes at an amuse­ment park try­ing to save a damsel in dis­tress on one of the rides, she said.

Childs said they were putting the show to­gether at the same time the car­ni­val, which comes to Kingston Plaza each year as part

of the Chil­dren’s Pa­rade, was around.

The kids were able to shoot scenes with that as back­drop, she said.

In an­other show, a kid was so en­gaged with his cell­phone, there were crazy things hap­pen­ing around him in a Mr. Ma­goo-style ad­ven­ture.

“We had to shake the mes­sage that you can’t be so in­volved you’re not aware what’s go­ing on around you,” said Childs, ad­ding this was done more than five years be­fore Poke­monGo left mil­lions with their eyes glued to cell­phones last sum­mer.

Childs said each Kings Kids show is made in a pos­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment.

“No put downs, no neg­a­tiv­ity,” Childs said. “We do it in a way that up­lifts, and does not pull kids down. Ev­ery­body might not be hav­ing a great day, but we frame it in a way that kids go home hav­ing a bet­ter at­ti­tude than when they got here.”

Kids need to just have one out­let where they can do some­thing fun and en­cour­ag­ing and up­beat, she said.

“That can set you on the

right path,” Childs said.,

Childs said they’ll al­ways find a way to work with a kid no mat­ter what their abil­ity is.

“We al­low ev­ery­body to take part no mat­ter what,” Childs said.

Kings Kids also of­fers lead­er­ship devel­op­ment, Childs said.

When par­tic­i­pants get older, they can move into ju­nior staff roles to men­tor oth­ers, Childs said.

“In time they be­come staff,” Childs said.

As for how she got in­volved with Kings Kids, Childs said she got mar­ried, moved to Kingston and also turned to her faith. She said she took up vol­un­teer­ing with Kings Kids and that later evolved into a job.

“There’s a proverb that says ‘your gifts will find for you,’ it’s kind of a weird writ­ing,” Childs said.

She said her role lets her com­bine her love for act­ing, singing and di­rect­ing with work­ing with young peo­ple.

“The twain met be­tween the op­por­tu­nity and my abil­i­ties,” Childs said.

Childs said she sees it more as a la­bor of love than just an in­come source.

“It’s not a job for me,”

Childs said. “I fly out of the house to do it.”

As for what brings her the most sat­is­fac­tion, she said it’s im­pact­ing lives of young peo­ple.

“The ic­ing on the cake, the cherry on top is see­ing the pro­duc­tion or see­ing kids who wanted to quit at some point be­cause they thought they couldn’t do it,” Childs said. “To fi­nally see it come to­gether, and see the af­fir­ma­tion from the crowd, and the smiles on the faces of kids makes it all worth it for me.”

The pro­gram in­spired Child’s to write “Christ­mas Le­mon­ade” a re­cently re­leased book that tells a story of re­silience based on a true story that hap­pened to King’s Kids back in 2008.

Childs said that year the pro­gram was chal­lenged by a “mean per­son” liv­ing in their com­mu­nity who did ev­ery­thing in their power to kill the pro­gram.

“We per­se­vered, and we taught the kids, re­silience through­out,” Childs said. “We never lashed out, or re­tal­i­ated, and we ended up with one the best shows we ever had.”

As all of that was go­ing on, the kids wrote a play about it, Childs said

“It’s about how you per­se­vere and make some le­mon­ade,” Childs said.

She said she wrote the story last year, but she de­cided to wait and re­lease it for this hol­i­day sea­son.

“Then Bey­once came out with “Le­mon­ade,” Childs said. “My book doesn’t have a chance against them. Then I said why does this have to be a com­pe­ti­tion. Maybe this is just a year of le­mon­ade.”

After she got kids started on a ren­di­tion of “Santa Claus is Com­ing to Town,” fea­tur­ing a dance rou­tine, she re­turned up­stairs and dis­cussed her fu­ture goals for the pro­grams.

Childs said she hopes the pro­gram con­tin­ues to grow, and it gives the kids a chance to go off to col­lege and do big­ger and bet­ter things with the per­form­ing arts.

“The world is such a smaller place with the ad­vent of the internet,” Childs said. “So I’d love to see the seeds grown here in Kingston or across the coun­try.”

For more in­for­ma­tion about the va­ri­ety show, or to sign up, call Ral­phine Childs at (845) 338-0327.

PHO­TOS BY TA­NIA BARRICKLO — DAILY FREE­MAN

Older mem­bers of Kings Kids Pro­gram in Kingston who will be par­tic­i­pat­ing in the up­com­ing tal­ent show.

Some of Kings Kids Pro­gram dancers go through a rou­tine for the up­com­ing tal­ent show. From left are chore­og­ra­pher Codi Childs, Lau­ren Townsend, Hale Chaf­fin, and Jo­ce­lyn Childs.

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