Our Story

Wimee’s Words is an interactive show that kids help bring to life! Wimee the robot and his friends share stories, music, and games that spark imagination, inspire creative thinking, and encourage a love of learning and trying new things. Each episode is filled with wacky wordplay, silly songs, and playful conversation. Wimee’s Words celebrates the diversity of languages and cultures, uses technology to invite creativity and collaboration, and ultimately fosters a growing community of young learners and creators! 

The App

The Wimage application provides kids meaningful tech time by giving them the opportunity to become visual communicators and more creative producers using technology. The ability to think of an idea and instantly see the idea becoming visual can foster students’ creativity, imagination, ideation, and critical thinking. With the Wimage application, students can input a few words, see the images, then manipulate their size, shape, location, and orientation. This helps students begin to understand the importance of vocabulary, design, and visual expression as necessary tools for communication of their thoughts and ideas. Wimage will empower students to become authors, illustrators, and designers all on one platform, all from their very own original ideas.

The Livestream

Our educational livestream show was born in response to COVID-19. After most schools began virtual learning, our team was unable to visit students face-to-face for workshops. As a result, we started Wimee’s Words (co-produced by Kent District Library), a web-based, interactive kids show that encourages imagination, vocabulary building, and storytelling through puppetry, music and wordplay. The livestream allows kids to engage, partner with their parents and teachers, and contribute to the show in various ways.  

Wimee’s Words Team Members

The Wimee’s Words and Wimage teams consist of educators, librarians, technology developers, entrepreneurs, parents, kids, and puppets that have joined together to empower all children to become producers of creative content and not just consumers of it.

Wimee

Wimee is a lovable robot puppet that loves to make new friends and help kids increase their literacy and storytelling skills. He’s featured in the app and can be found hosting every episode of his show, Wimee’s Words. Wimee has a great sense of humor and enjoys playing with words, learning new things, and meeting new people!

Daniel M. Hyacinthe (Michael)

Michael is the CEO of Wimage, LLC. On the Wimee’s Words show, Michael creates with Wimee in the Grand Rapids Wimage Lab and also contributes the Minute with Michael segment. Michael is a veteran of the U.S. Navy and used his experience with wounded veterans to find a creative and therapeutic outlet for them to express themselves. This compelled him to create the Wimage application, which he then discovered was appropriate for the educational market. Michael is passionate about the vision of Wimee’s Words and is the driving force that keeps it all going!

Kevin Kammeraad

Kevin is the Co-Producer and Lead Puppeteer on the Wimee’s Words show and is part of the Community Engagement Team as a Bookmobile Operator at Kent District Library. His experience as a children’s author, artist, performer, and presenter/educator over the past twenty years has prepared him well for this dynamic live show! Kevin is a master puppeteer and has spent his career performing interactive, inspiring, entertaining, high energy shows at schools, family events, libraries, and festivals across the country. Kevin has a degree in Film & Video Production from Grand Valley State University, and he loves using his creative talents to bring Wimee to life on each Wimee’s Words episode!

Stephanie Kammeraad

Stephanie is the Co-Producer and one of the content organizers, writers, tech directors, and consultants for the show. She also loves appearing on the show and playing games with Wimee and friends! Stephanie has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology/Special Education from Grand Valley State University. She’s coordinated and taught various classes and camps for kids in preschool through middle school over the past fifteen years throughout West Michigan, owned and operated a traveling multicultural children’s book business for many years, and is currently also the Director of Children’s Ministry at a church in Grand Rapids, MI where she lives with her husband, their two teenage kids, three cats, and a dog.

James Dague

Often known as ScribbleJim, James presents the Jim Time segment on Wimee’s Words, featuring collaborative songs and games. He’s also the Co-Producer, lead content writer, tech director, and the lead content organizer of the show. When he’s not playing with Wimee and friends, Jim is writing and performing children’s music with his band, ScribbleMonster. With recordings recognized by National Public Radio, Parenting Magazine, and the Parent’s Choice Awards, ScribbleMonster’s approach to music, learning, and play has earned five #1 songs on Sirius/XM’s Kids Place Live and thousands of live performances at libraries, festivals, museums, and other special events. Jim also teaches creative play music classes for early childhood and students with diverse abilities.

Dr. Sara Proano and Lucy

Sara is wife to a local farmer, a mother of 3, and a Latino-American immigrant who has served in the community services field for more than 10 years since her arrival to the US. She serves as the Community Engagement Manager at Kent District Library and also works as a certified trainer for interpreters and translators under community language accessibility initiatives. Sara holds a Clinical Psychology doctorate from the Universidad Cristiana Latino Americana in Ecuador and has two post graduate diplomas in Systemic Theory and Infant Development. On Wimee’s Words, Sara and Lucy have fun working together to provide the Spanish translation in our Language Explorers segment!

 

Kelaine Mish

Kelaine loves being an information Mythbuster and discovery Influencer as a branch and bookmobile librarian at Kent District Library in Kent County, Michigan.  She loves mysteries and technology and exploring the internet. Sharing those loves on Wimee’s Words with all the kiddos through Tech Talk and behind the scenes is the best part of her day!… when she’s not watching squirrels…

 

Brad Allen

Brad appears primarily in the Language Explorers segment of Wimee’s Words, speaking Kiswahili (Swahili) which he grew up speaking in the Central/East African countries of Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Kenya. Brad is the Cataloging Specialist for Kent District Library. His focus is to make materials accessible and easy to find within the library catalog. Brad also worked for sixteen years resettling refugees in Grand Rapids, MI, including many from the countries where he grew up. Brad is an aspiring runner, and he day-dreams of being able to run even a small percentage as well as the phenomenal runners from the countries in Africa where he has lived. 

Brody Andrus

Brody is a young man who enjoys spending time drawing and creating which is why he loves creating the Wimages for the show in the Wimage Lab. He loves writing stories with his brothers and thrift shopping with his sister. He spends his free time volunteering in his community doing fun things like planting trees and helping with festivals and library events. He loves helping others, chatting about video games, and playing with his friends outside. Brody has a great giggle that puts a smile on everyone’s face.

Lisa Rodkey

Lisa is a Branch Librarian with a focus on youth services at the Comstock Park Branch of Kent District Library. She loves doing book reviews on the Check Out This Book! segment on Wimee’s Words. She was a teacher and a school librarian before she came to KDL. She has lived in 6 U.S. states and on 3 different continents. It makes sense then that her favorite things to do are to read children’s books and travel!

Moby

Moby is an enthusiastic bird who loves to read, loves to learn, and LOVES to share. Moby is the head of research on Wimee’s Words, and is also Wimee’s best friend. Moby is super excitable and can’t resist spouting fun facts. Everything and anything, from submarines to dirt, will get Moby energized to learn and wonder!

Siblee

Siblee is an off-the-wall inventor robot who’s always rolling and zipping around. He is continuously coming up with crazy inventions and technical doo-dads. All of the crazy spinning gears, randomizing machines, and various inventions are thanks to Siblee. He loves telling jokes, meeting new people, and keeping the Wimee’s Words team on their toes with antics!

Joyanne Huston-Swanson

Joyanne is one of KDL’s Bookmobile Librarians. She and her family including dogs, cats, and fish live in the West Michigan area. She loves all kinds of pizza…it should have its own food group. Her one super -power is making up new song lyrics on the fly. In all seriousness though, she lives by her favorite motto from Yoda, “There is no try, there is only do.” Catch her out-and-about with the Bookmobile or during our “Check Out This Book” segments. 

Nia Hyacinthe

Nia is one of the Wimage Lab creators on the show and our social media marketer. She is currently in her last semester as a student at Delaware State University studying Mass Communications with a concentration in Public Relations and Advertising. She is minoring in Business Hospitality and Tourism. Nia truly has a passion for education and loves helping children in their academic journey. Her goal with Wimee Words is to teach children across the world the importance of technology and education while having fun!

Nikhil

Nikhil is a student who likes reading, math, and social studies. He excels at problem solving, learning new things and eating spicy Indian snacks. In his free time he enjoys building blocks, reading books on mythology, and playing games. While video games are his favorite, he also enjoys card games and board games. Playing games with Wimee and friends is what he loves most about being on the show. 

Cailynn Hamilton

Cailynn Hamilton is a bi-lingual kid creative that loves writing, reading, visual and performing arts. She began appearing on Wimee’s Words after being selected as one of the winners in the 2021 Write Michigan competition. Cailynn officially joined the Wimee’s Words team in January 2022. She likes working with the team to create fun and engaging content for Wimee’s Words viewers. When she turns her camera off, she can be found reading a book, journaling, or playing with her siblings and friends. Cailynn is full of energy, compassion, and aspirations. When she is not modeling, writing, creating content or drafting business plans for her latest endeavor; she enjoys gymnastics, cheerleading, volunteering and traveling with her family. When Cailynn grows up she wants to continue acting and modeling, while pursuing her interest in ichthyology. 

Sparky, Laina & Baby Bumblebee

Sparky’s full name is a mouthful: Sparkle Rainbow Moonstar 5, which is why he goes by Sparky for short. Sparky is a hardworking humda (half-human/half-panda). His human side is known as Cooper Dague. Cooper earned his LTA certification from the American Library Association and puts it to work at his local public library. He loves videogames and is also an award-winning photographer. His sister, Laina Dague, is a full human. She earned her MLIS with certification in Youth Services. She works in the youth department at her local public library. Laina loves reading, playing games, making music, and learning new things. Baby Bumblebee is adorable. She loves to dance, sing, and hum along when she can’t remember the words.

Dr. Paige Dague

Paige has a BA in education and history, dual master’s degrees in Educational Administration and Psychology & Counseling, and she earned her doctorate in Curriculum & Instruction. She has spent her career in education as a teacher, counselor, and principal in suburban Chicago. Her hobbies include prolific crochet and competitive piemaking. She has also authored three children’s books. Paige serves as Educational Consultant for Wimee’s Words and as a second generation German-American, she also delivers the German portion of our Language Explorers segments.

Special thanks to the following folks who work behind the scenes or who’ve contributed to the show in various ways over the years: Elizabeth Andrus, Brock Andrus, Elaina Dague, Grace Miguel Cipriano and Christine Mwangi from Kent District Library, Holly Miller and Carine Roure at the Academy of Art and Design, Karen Blackledge from Muskegon Area District Library, Jon Covington and the Men of Color Read members, Critter, Mr. Grumphrey, Erin and Keller Murphy, Lucas Hyacinthe, Ashlyn and Brinley Pfeiffle, Aluong and Apat, the children’s librarians at the Grand Rapids Public Library, the therapists at Comprehensive Therapy Center, Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou, 123 Andrés, Mi Amigo Hamlet & Alina Celeste, Andrea and Makenna Lewis, the Gorby family, the Berryhill family, and all the other families who’ve shared photos and videos for Where in the World and That’s So Cool, the talented friends who’ve shared of themselves on Wimee’s Friends, and all of the amazing kids who’ve shared their wonderful talents and interests with us on Kid Chat!

History

Wimee the robot first came into being in February of 2016. The idea for him came from Michael Hyacinthe, founder of the Wimage app, as a fun way to engage kids in their creativity. He turned to his good friend and decades long puppeteer, Kevin Kammeraad, for help. Together, Michael and Kevin worked with puppet builder Joe Emory to make Wimee 1.0.

That Fall, Kevin and Michael offered hands-on workshops where students combined their imaginations with the innovative technology of Wimage to create collaborative visual stories during Art Prize Education Days. Following the success of these, they began providing workshops to preschool classrooms throughout the Grand Rapids area with funding from the PNC Grow Up Great Foundation.

The first year they visited all of the preschools in the Grand Rapids Public School District. The following year they went to every Great Start Readiness Program preschool in Kent County. In 2019 they brought their workshops to every Head Start for Kent County classroom. They also continued offering their educational visual storytelling workshops during Art Prize Education Days each year.

Over the years they also visited many elementary school classrooms to offer workshops to create collaborative visual stories (lower grades) or collaborative books (upper grades). The Wimage app and the character, Wimee, continued to develop and grow. Wimee evolved from 1.0 to 2.0 to now his current form as Wimee 3.0.

Because schools began virtual learning in 2020 due to Covid-19, Kevin and Michael were unable to visit students face-to-face for workshops. As a result, we started Wimee’s Words (co-produced by Kent District Library), a web-based, interactive kids show that encourages imagination, vocabulary building, and storytelling through puppetry, music, and wordplay. We’ve formed many great partnerships and connected with countless kids and families along the way!

Learn more in this interview by Cynthia Canty for Stateside on Michigan Radio

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