Hamilton educator teaches kindness through puppet talk show

·2 min read

In the season première of “Let’s Talk Kindness,” a YouTube talk show series for kids, two rainbow-sherbet-coloured puppets help answer the question: What is kindness?

“That is a very big and important question,” said P.I.N.K. Power.

“In speaking with one another, we will be able to gain a better understanding of the thoughts, feelings and opinions of others, which will help us get along better.”

The voice behind co-hosts P.I.N.K Power and P.I.N.K Passion — the “superheroes of kindness” — is Vandana Verma, a Grade 3/4 teacher at Prince of Wales Elementary School in central Hamilton.

“I learned how to change my voice in Adobe Audition,” she said. “I record the whole thing in one voice and then I make it higher for P.I.N.K. Power and then lower for P.I.N.K. Passion.”

Verma, inspired by ventriloquist Jeff Dunham, came up with the idea in May of last year. She wrote the script, produced the videos and designed and sewed all 17 characters in the show.

“I got the pattern and then I went to Fabricland and bought the material,” she said. “Whatever material they had, I had to think of what puppets to make.”

Verma and five other educators — including a principal — voice the characters.

But this isn’t the superhero duo’s first appearance. In 2013, Verma launched Just One Wish, an initiative to create a more positive school culture.

“I used to have kids dress up — I had capes I made, and I had masks — and they used to walk around the school and recognize children for their kindness,” she said.

When the pandemic hit, Verma took the concept online. The first season, debuted in early January, will have 10 episodes, seven of which have already been produced. A second season is set to launch in September.

Verma said it was important to her that the series was accessible — the series are available cost-free on YouTube. The series is currently being used by educators and parents both in class and at home, and she hopes the series will become more mainstream.

“Kindness is the solution to everything,” she said. “We talk about bullying and we talk about identity and we talk about equity. To me, if we were kind to each other and ourselves, we could end all those problems.”

Kate McCullough, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator