Just before we left for Spring Break, Gail and I spent time discussing how to continue our discussion with her class regarding making a difference. Knowing her girls are very interested in animals and their service learning project this spring involves helping a local animal shelter, we began wondering how we could help the girls put that passion to even greater action. Gail created a LiveBinder, and we began filling it with resources, one of which is the shelter's website. However, as we looked at the site, we realized it has no content meant for children other than a simple page advertising field trips and tours of the facility. That got us thinking. What if Gail's class created content for a children's information page, similar to the ones found on ASPCA and AVMA? Maybe the girls could create a PSA or informative coloring pages or a list of ideas and ways to help animals. The ideas suddenly seemed limitless.
The next step was to continue the discussion with the girls. So Gail suggested I share the story of my two Jack Russell puppies. I put together a presentation, and the next day, I told the first graders my story. I told the girls it began when my children decided they really wanted a puppy. As I investigated the best way to get a Jack Russell puppy (my family is partial to these dogs), I discovered the Jack Russell Rescue organization. I explained to the girls we decided that rather than buy a puppy from a breeder, we would rescue a dog in need of a home. As it turned out, at the time of our search, there was a litter of pups that had been dropped at a shelter. While explaining the adoption process to the students, we discussed how that seemingly small choice on the part of my family made a huge difference in the lives of those dogs (we ended up adopting two!). Now my little dogs have a loving home with all they need to keep them healthy and safe. Through the discussion, the girls helped Gail and I brainstorm a list of ingredients essential to caring for animals: shelter, food, water, a yard in which to run, medicine if they are sick, and most of all, attention and love. Throughout the discussion, the girls were amazing. One student even made the association between my adoption story and one of their summer reading books, A Home for Dixie. Gail and I couldn't have been more pleased with the observations and comments the girls made. They shared stories of their own pets, some of which were also adopted. We talked about how important it is to support shelters and how keeping homeless animals safe and healthy requires money and support from the community, which is all of us.
The next steps this project takes should be quite exciting!