JMFriends Camp Counselor and former puppeteer Clare Flanagan gives readers a glimpse into her experiences with the puppet troupe…from both sides of the curtain.

The first time I was introduced to the Joseph Maley Foundation and disABILITY Awareness was as a seventh grader at St. Maria Goretti Catholic School. At the end of the year, our class was able to come watch one of the puppet shows performed during disABILITY Awareness week. After the show, the JMFriends puppeteers came out from behind the curtain and talked to us about how much they loved being a part of the puppet troupe.  We were given application to join if we were interested. I was really intrigued, and so I asked for a form. Soon enough, I was attending the summer training camp with most of my friends, learning how to bring the puppets to life.

Personally, my favorite skit to perform has been Sticks and Stones with the puppets Jennifer and Brenda. This skit was my favorite because it teaches acceptance and caring, and I got to perform it with one of my best friends, which I really enjoyed. I love the feeling of friendship and community that the Puppet Troupe encourages, so I wanted to help the next generation of JMF puppeteers. While attending the camp again this summer, this time as a counselor, I was amazed to find all of new puppeteers were looking up to me as a role model. It is one thing to have smaller children look up to you, but it is an entirely different feeling when it is people almost the exact same age as you. It’s an incredible feeling.

When you become a puppeteer, you will meet so many inspiring people, and have so many incredible experiences. It helps shape you into a leader, a listener, and a person who welcomes all people no matter their abilities. JMF has helped shape me into the person I am today, and has given me tools to better myself and others in my life. They have helped me learn to love everyone around me. I am continuing on to the Junior Board so that hopefully I can help to shape someone’s life in the way that JMF has shaped mine.

Post written by:  Clare Flanagan

JMFriends Camp Counselor

Junior Board Member