Val Hilliker uses puppets to convey a serious message to children and adult about practicing character building virtues. The Virtues Project is a tool

Ventriloquist addresses bullying, name calling in a very positive, upbeat way

A ventriloquist who recently moved to Rimbey from Bluffton managed to grab the attention of town council

A ventriloquist who recently moved to Rimbey from Bluffton managed to grab the attention of town council in a unique and unusual way when she and her trunk load of puppets dropped in at the Aug. 25 council meeting.

Using Lily the Duck (who is actually a frog) to share her message, Val Hilliker talked to council about ways to combat the serious issues of bullying, name calling and violence.

She explained she teaches The Virtues Project, incorporating the message which helps provide building blocks for character for children and adults into her puppet presentations.

Hilliker has traveled all over the world with her puppets, but at present wants to focus on reaching out in the town where she is living.

“I want to reach out to the key people in the community; government, businesses and schools,” she said.

Using the strategies in The Virtues Project can have a positive effect on the entire community, she said.

“These strategies help us to live more authentic, purposeful lives, to raise children of compassion and idealism, and create a culture of character in our schools and communities.”

Languages has the power to discourage or to inspire, she said. Using virtues to acknowledge, guide, correct and be thankful awakens the best within us, she said.

“Recognizing the virtues needed in daily challenges helps use to become lifelong learners open to the lessons of character.”

Setting clear boundaries, honoring the spirit and listening with compassionate curiosity to help others find clarity and support healing and growth are strategies used in the virtues project, she said.

Puppets are a fun way to teach a very serious subject, she said.

Youngsters who struggle against bullying or even bullies themselves become so engrossed with the make-believe characters who become real under the skilled hands of Hilliker.

Helping youngsters feel good about themselves and learn how to face the challenges that goes along with growing up is an important part of the Virtues Project. Using puppets to convey the powerful message is simply fun.

Hilliker obviously loves what she does and has also learned how to use colours to promote the virtue words.

Using colour she costumes her puppets appropriately so that orange represents courage, purple kindness, blue honest and green peacefulness.

Helping children and adults recognize their own potential virtues is heartwarming and the effect results in positive spin offs that impact the entire community.

Hilliker plans to hold a two-day workshop in November at the Rimbey Library to teach the Virtues Project and the strategies involved in making it successful.

Council supported the project.

“It’s something very worthwhile,” said Coun. Mathew Jaycox.