Take a trip down the yellow brick road, once you're there you will see tiny Munchkins playing in an artistic way never seen before.
Munchkin Dramatics and Early Learning Programs is a new program that has arrived in Leavenworth. Ruthie Vega, owner of Munchkin Dramatics, has brought the program to the community for one purpose, to expose children to the creative arts. She started the Munchkins in January, 2013 after she graduated from the University of Kansas as a way to give back to the community she grew up in.
"My dramatics program focuses on the whole child, to try to keep every child involved by allowing them to explore each element of theater in a fun and easy going way," Vega said. "I am not focused on having them perfect their acting skills or always doing it right."
The program is open to all children and they strive to get those with special needs interested in the program as well. Vega believes her program benefits the whole community because it not only involves the children, but it involves the families as well and focuses on helping each child find their personal interest and potential.
Laura Finney, member of Munchkins, said that she is part of the early childhood program and believes it's a great idea. She also has her two children involved with the program as well, her six-year-old son is part of the dramatics program.
"I think it's fabulous, very educational," Finney said. "I really appreciate it."
The idea of starting this group happened when she was doing her undergraduate in Theater and Film at Kansas University in 2004.
She began teaching drama classes at the Carnegie Arts Center in Leavenworth to gain practice in stage direction and working with children. After getting to know the children, she changed her degree from Theater and Film to Education considering her love of teaching and helping children exceed in the arts.
"Not only did I miss theater but with my new teacher's license, I decided to pull my personal resources together and expand beyond dramatics and add some early learning programs," Vega said. " I aim to help as many children as I can."
The purpose of the program is to bring together the passion of the children and the need for the bonding of families through a fun-filled time.
Vega believes the way she designed the program involves just as much a focus on the child to learn as it does family learning. The activities are ones that can be duplicated at home, which is important to each family.
Finney said the program brings people from all walks of life together for a great cause. Along with her children, she brings her cousin's daughter as well.
Page 2 of 2 - "My son and cousin's daughter are both six and do the dramatics," Finney said. "They're so happy, they love the education and it's just adorable."
The program will be having 'Mini Munchkins & Me' Summer Play and Learn which will run July 9 through Aug. 13. The program will begin at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. for ages 1 through 5 in various Leavenworth parks.
Those interested in being part of the program can visit her facebook page at https"//www.facebook.com/ECDRAMA for more information and learn how to get involved either through volunteering or getting their children involved.
Vega wants any child who would like to participate to be part of the group, even if that means they cannot afford the program. She said she will work with families to accommodate them the best she can.
"Support from community members would help my business grow and benefit more kids," Vega said. "If local companies would like to sponsor a child for a session or donate supplies that would be greatly appreciated."
She hopes the future of her business will continue to grow and the community will come to know and love her program.
"I have had many ambitions and interests in my life," Vega said. "This was a brilliant idea I had one night and decided to give it a try. So far, thins are looking great."