About CKOB

Learn about our mission and history.

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Our Story

Chattanooga's Kids on the Block (CKOB) is an award-winning puppetry theater troupe and educational organization which uses the skillful practice of Bunraku puppetry to educate children about social concerns and differences, giving them the skills they need to stay safe and healthy. Founded in 1979, our CKOB troupe is one of the longest-running, most active, and most respected Kids on the Block troupes in the United States.

Our puppets each have distinct personalities and, through carefully scripted material, they portray a world of real-life situations. As our puppets come to life, children identify with them and open up to them as if they were trusted friends, asking questions and sharing stories with them. Through interactive opportunities and letters written to the puppets, all requests for help are turned over to the proper authorities or referred to the appropriate agency.

Our Goals:

  • Encourage open communication through the use of artistic expression
  • Encourage acceptance of physical, social, medical and cultural differences
  • Provide accurate information through theatrical performance
  • Build self-esteem and empower action
  • Keep children safe through communication and artistic expression
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Dedicated & Licensed

Our program uses hand-made, child-size puppets to carry out our mission. We hope to prevent problems before they happen and to empower children with knowledge. Chattanooga Kids on the Block is also a licensed child abuse prevention agency in the state of Tennessee and will immediately report any cases that we become aware of and any requests for help will be referred to the proper authority.

Bring us to your school
To book a workshop, contact Wendy at 

All programs utilize the latest brain science to prevent and mitigate the impact of ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) and incorporate the Tennessee ACEs initiative, “Building Strong Brains.”

Our Staff

Kelly Williams
Executive Director
Kelly Lowry
Marketing/Event Coordinator
Wendy Davis
Statistician / Educator / Bunraku Specialist
Kasandra Helms
educator / Bunraku Specialist
Program Assistant / Volunteer Coordinator
Hannah Owens
Educator / bunraku specialist

Board of Directors

  • President - Michelle Wells
  • Vice President - Bill Reason
  • Secretary - Carly Smith - Berry
  • Treasurer - Brad Culbreth
  • Ex Officio - Kelly Ellington


  • Jack Berry
  • Steve Bolen
  • Danielle Swindell
  • Carly Brewer
  • Janet O’Brien
  • Sean O’Brien
  • Jan Wheeler
  • Lisa Wheeler
  • John Schenk
  • Dan Kral

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this just a puppet show?

Chattanooga’s Kids on the Block is a traveling, puppet theatre focused on specific educational topics related to the challenges youth face. Our theatrical performances using the nationally recognized Kids on the Block puppets programs consist of researched and scripted educational segments acted by highly trained puppeteers/educators and interactive segment in which children can discuss the program and ask the puppets questions. They’re not just puppet shows but artistic, interactive, educational performances with significant impact in the lives of children and families.

Will you come to my school?

Yes! Our troupe is willing to go to any school as long as we have our travel expenses covered. Ask your teachers to send us a request (or if you are a teacher, click here for that form).

What's Bunraku?

CKOB’s highly-trained puppeteers/educators use a classic Japanese form of puppetry called Bunraku, requiring months of training to perfect. By dressing in all black they become like shadows, disappearing behind the puppets and letting their characters come to life.

Any other questions?

Feel free to email us at info@kidsontheblock.net

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