THE SHOW GOES ON FOR LOCAL YOUTH
In its 32nd season, Kings Kids Program continues to make difference for area kids
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.
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.