The Kids on the Block -- a Columbia, Md.-based organization that uses life-size puppets to promote understanding of people with disabilities and differences -- is being confused with the teen rock performers New Kids on the Block, and the organization doesn't like it one bit.
Kids' founder Barbara Aiello yesterday announced the group is seeking legal action against the singers to end the mistaken identity that she says is jeopardizing its reputation.
"We originated our name 14 years ago, and that name has been synonymous with teaching and children. All of a sudden in the late '80s, this rock group decides to choose a name almost identical to ours," Ms. Aiello said.
The confusion has resulted in parents taking disabled children to see Kids on the Block -- and finding themselves at a rock concert. In another instance, two girls called the Kids' 800 number under the impression they were reaching the New Kids and sang into the answering machine, sticking the organization with a costly long-distance call.
A Kids on the Block spokeswoman said an earlier meeting with New Kids' representatives produced no results. The agent for the New Kids, Dick Scott, could not be reached yesterday for comment.
The Kids on the Block Inc. has community-based programs in all 50 states and in 21 countries, and works with a large force of volunteers who put on community puppet shows.