A group of 287 students from Frisco’s Isbell Elementary sat “criss-cross apple sauce” in the cafeteria, all eyes on a puppet troupe starring “Peanut,” “Butter” and “Jelly.” This morning’s program is presented by the Kids Count Players, an all-volunteer group from the Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County who perform at various schools throughout the year to educate kids on child abuse prevention.
With the help of puppets “Peanut,” “Butter” and “Jelly,” as well as puppet teacher “Ms. B. Strong” and “Officer DoRight,” the Kids Count Players integrate lively music and hula hoops to teach 1st- and 2nd-grade students the difference between physical and emotional abuse, as well as personal boundaries.
“My body is mine alone!” Jane Donovan, creator and director of the Kids Count Players, enthuses, encouraging the kids to repeat it back. They earnestly oblige.
Jane plays “Miss Tania” and has a natural, energetic way of capturing the kids’ attention.
The Inspiration Behind Kids Count Players
A 7-year-old girl named Ashley Nicole Estell serves as Jane’s inspiration and commitment to fight child abuse and empower children with information that might help keep them safe. On a Saturday in September 1993, Ashley was last seen at Plano’s Carpenter Park. Jane’s family was at the park that day, and because her daughter was Ashley’s age, Jane deeply sympathized for the family—and the community. (Today, Jane’s daughter is 31).
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Jane began volunteering with the Children’s Advocacy Center in 1994. She also worked there full time and was one of the founding members of the community education team where she created Kids Count Players. The program was born in 2005 and today consists of about 20 volunteers who rotate throughout the year to perform; most of them are former educators. Since The Kids Count Players began performing in Collin County schools in 2007, they have performed for more than 86,000 students. This school year alone, they have conducted 52 performances for more than 13,000 students, in hopes of keeping students safe from child abuse.
About the Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County
A project of the Junior League of Collin County, the Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County opened its doors in 1992. Under one roof, the center houses law enforcement, Child Protective Services, therapists, caseworkers, interns, nurses and volunteers. An abused child shares his or her story with a trained forensic interviewer in a comfortable environment, and the interview is recorded to minimize the number of times they must retell the details of their trauma. Communication across agencies strengthens criminal cases so that perpetrators can be held accountable, keeping our community safe. Additionally, the center works hand-in-hand with the District Attorney’s office to ensure that justice is served. Each year, more than 3,300 children and non-offending family members receive help from the Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County because of allegations of abuse or neglect.
There are two locations in Collin County:
2205 Los Rios Blvd.
Plano, TX 75074
1500 S. Central Exp., Ste. 100
McKinney, TX 75070