Education is important—especially when it saves lives. The Safe Start Burn Prevention Program offered through University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital is a free program for third-graders designed to teach children how to prevent burn injuries and keep themselves (and their families) safe.

Staffed by nurses from the Burn Treatment Center, the program includes songs and scripted, educational skits using life-size puppets.

Children interact directly with the puppets during question-and-answer sessions after each skit. This unique form of communication provides young people with a safe environment to learn about burn prevention and fire safety. Hopefully, what they learn from these performances will serve them well for the rest of their lives.

Meet the puppets

The Kids on the Block Inc. is a special troupe of puppets. Each puppet is unique with his or her likes, dislikes, hopes, fears, talents, and limitations.

The Kids on the Block puppets were first developed in 1977. Today, these puppets educate children and adults across all 50 states and in more than 25 countries.

Melody James

Melody is a 9-year-old girl who is part of a big family. She is careful and cautious, and understands how thoughtlessness can lead to trouble. Through “Mel,” children learn to exercise caution within the framework of being a lively and involved kid.

Renaldo Rodriquez

Renaldo, 8, is blind. How he deals with his loss of sight is demonstrated in several scripts. Renaldo is a good friend of Melody and an acquaintance of Joanne. He has a keen sense of humor that helps lighten the tone of the scripts.

Lynne Casey

Lynne, 9, is in the third grade. Lynne was in the hospital for three months after being severely burned in a house fire. She is doing fine and is ready to return to school. Lynne realizes that she looks “different” and doesn’t mind if other children notice that she’s been burned. Through Lynne, children learn about burns—how to treat them, and how to prevent them.

Joanne Spinoza

Joanne, 9, is skeptical about some issues regarding fire safety. She represents a child who is a bit “above it all,” and forces Renaldo and Melody to explain fire safety in clear and concrete terms. Joanne also represents children who are frightened by emergency situations but who can learn to stay calm and help out even though they are initially fearful.

Contact Information

We welcome the opportunity to visit your classroom or organization. Performances are scheduled two months in advance.  

For more information, or to schedule a performance, please contact:

Sarah Palek, RN
sarah-palek@uiowa.edu
Safe Start Burn Prevention Program Coordinator

Locations and Contact

  • UI Stead Family Children's Hospital
    8322 Colloton Pavilion
    200 Hawkins Drive
    Iowa City, Iowa 52242
    In House Directions: Elevator F, Level 8
    Contact
    • Phone: 319-356-2496