Abraham Lincoln stopped by the Camarillo Youth Center at the Catalina Heights military housing complex last month.
So did Michelle Obama, John F. Kennedy and LeBron James.
Nearly two dozen youngsters who go to the Child and Youth Programs (CYP) center performed in a Tuesday, Dec. 11, “wax museum,” in which they pretended to be their favorite hero. They researched the person, then gave a speech outlining the person’s accomplishments and how they related to one of six character traits: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness caring or citizenship.
“Every day after school, they worked on this for about a month,” said Katie Riege, program head at the youth center. “They researched the character, designed a costume and practiced the speech.”
Parents and friends were invited to the performance, during which each child gave the speech to everyone, then one-on-one to whoever came by and “pushed the button,” activating the “wax figure.”
Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Lamar Hooper of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4 enjoyed the “Squanto” performance given by his 7-year-old daughter, Kaiya.
“She’s had this infatuation with Squanto ever since Thanksgiving,” Hooper said as Kaiya told the audience how the Patuxet Native American showed the character trait of caring in helping the Pilgrims learn to grow their own food so they could survive the winters of the 1620s.
Lt. James Gallagher of the Navy Research Lab was impressed with the performances of his sons Casey, 9, who came as Pat Tillman, and Avery, 7, who came as John F. Kennedy.
“I thought it was great,” he said of the project. “There was a lot of research they had to do. Plus, it takes a lot of courage for little kids to stand up in front of adults and perform like this.”
Some of the youngsters who named heroes based more on their celebrity status or sports prowess than anything else got a chance to find out more about the person’s character. One child learned that actor Jackie Chan collects money to build schools in China through his Dragon’s Heart Foundation. Another learned that star football player Arian Foster of the Houston Texans supports the Boys & Girls Clubs.
Fohn Watson, who attended the wax museum with her husband, Air Force Master Sgt. Dudley Watson, said she was proud of their daughter Jaden’s performance as first lady Michelle Obama.
“Her reading skills are good, so she was really confident,” she said of the 6-year-old. “And she looks great in that dress.”