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Naperville Area Humane Society: Build-A-Bear Youth Humane Education Grant Report

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

This grant has been used to support the Naperville Area Humane Society’s (NAHS) growing humane-education program, which includes our Paws for Tales animal-assisted reading program, Homeschool Heroes, After-School Program, summer camp, spring break internship, one-day holiday camps, outreach presentations, birthday parties, and shelter tours.

Paws for Tales animal-assisted reading program provides schools with certified volunteer-dog team visits, which help children of all ages to feel more comfortable by reading aloud to a dog in a non-judgmental, supportive environment. The Paws for Tales program motivates children to improve their reading skills in a way that can be observed as early as the first reading session with the dog. However, the program goes much deeper. The human-animal bond is very powerful, as the dogs offer a wonderful combination of kindness, curiosity, and patience to the task of reading. Interaction with the dog, and his or her unconditional love and limitless patience, is an experience that cannot be described. Paws for Tales supplies the books that contain humane themes such as kindness, empathy, and compassion. This grant helps us certify additional teams and provide participating children with a bookmark and choice of a sticker or a coloring sheet from the dog at the conclusion of each Paws for Tales visit. This grant has also helped facilitate in the sustainability of a growing program, and helped Paws for Tales continue to expand into additional schools and reach more children who need confidence in their literacy skills.

Our Homeschool Heroes and After School Programs each have five unique sessions (each session has six classes) and run throughout the school year. Available to children ages 8-14, these two programs offer children hands-on opportunities to work with our shelter animals. Below are descriptions of the sessions that this grant allows us the opportunity to offer to children in our community

Session 1 - Videos: Children create videos of the adoptable animals that will be posted on our website for potential adopters to view.
Session 2 - Work at Naperville Area Humane Society: Children become honorary NAHS employees and learn what it's like to have dogs and cats as your day-to-day co-workers.
Session 3 - Spread Holiday Cheer: Kids have the chance to spread some love and cheer to our homeless animals this holiday season by helping enrich their lives.
Session 4 - Enrichment: Children help create innovative ways to keep our animals busy and happy while they wait for their forever homes.
Session 5 - Videos Part 2: Kids join the shelter animals as they enjoy springtime and help capture their cutest moments to showcase in videos for potential adopters.

This grant also helped educate 113 children in all of our sold-out summer camps this year. We offer six different types of camp that allow children to be immersed in animal learning and fun. Each camp offers animal-related educational activities including games, crafts, guest speakers from other animal-related organizations, and animal interactions. Below is a description of each camp as well as our 2017 camp schedule:

Art with the Animals (4- and 5-year-olds): Art with the Animals incorporates fun animal-themed art projects with lessons about pet care and safety. Offered during the week of 6/7-6/9
Friends for Life (6- to 8-year-olds): Friends for Life focuses on pet care and learning about responsibility for animals. Special guests from our humane society as well as outside animal organizations will make each day a new adventure for the campers. Offered during the weeks of 7/17-7/21 & 7/31-8/4
Animal Neighbors (9- to 11-year-olds): Animal Neighbors incorporates visits from other animal organizations to educate children on the importance of compassion for all kinds of animals. Children will love learning about, and meeting, different kinds of animals while learning how each organization benefits animals in its own way. Offered during the weeks of 6/12-6/16 & 7/10-7/14
Dog’s Day Out (12- to 14-year-olds): Dog’s Day Out gives campers a chance to learn about NAHS as well as other animal-related organizations, and observe firsthand how the community cares for and rescues all kinds of creatures big and small. Offered during the week of 6/19-6/23
Jump for Joy (11- to 13-year-olds): Jump for Joy gives children the opportunity to enrich the lives of our shelter dogs with daily outings to our outdoor agility area. Offered during the week of 7/24-7/28
K9Manners (12- to 14-year-olds): K9 Manners teaches children positive-reinforcement training techniques and gives them the opportunity to work with our shelter dogs. At the conclusion of the camp, the children will have a strong sense of accomplishment knowing that they helped their dog partner get one step closer to achieving his or her Canine Good Citizen certificate. Offered during the week of 8/7-8/11

This grant helped educate children of all ages through our Homeschool Heroes, After School Program educational shelter tours and birthday parties, and outreach presentations. Also, this grant helped certify new therapy-dog teams and aid in the growth of our Paws for Tales and Pawsitive Therapy animal-assisted therapy programs.

How many pets did this grant help?

Year-to-date, this grant has helped 8,664 children though the aforementioned humane-education programs. This number is expected to exceed 10,000 by year's end.

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

I would like to share a story about Lucky Boy, a dog we took in from a shelter transfer and the third dog to enter Project Pawsitive Future. Lucky Boy and I actually go way back. He was originally found in Arkansas, trapped in a bear trap, when he was around 6 months old. Lucky Boy ended up with a rescue group in Oklahoma, and that rescue group ended up reaching out to a shelter in Chicago to do his reconstructive surgery, as the damage was quite extensive. He then went there for the surgery, and at that time (five years ago), I was actually working in medical at that shelter in Chicago and was part of the medical team during his surgery and recovery.

Lucky Boy was a puppy when all that occurred, and needed a long-term foster home to heal. He ended up going to a foster home that had a smaller, older dog, and Lucky Boy wanted to play all the time, so trying to keep him calm and the dogs separate proved to be very difficult. It was for this reason that he ended up going back to his original rescuer in Oklahoma in foster.

Fast forward five years, after our Clear the Shelters event, NAHS had extra kennel space and was able to take a few adult dogs from the rescue group in Oklahoma that we work with. That is how Lucky Boy ended up at NAHS. I realized who he was, and after he had his behavior assessment I decided that he would be a perfect candidate for our Project Pawsitive Future Program. He entered the program and graduated from it with a Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certificate. He has since been adopted, and he and his adoptive family are current volunteers for our Paws for Tales animal-assisted reading program and Pawsitive Therapy (our pet-therapy program). I have attached a picture of Lucky Boy after he passed his CGC evaluation.

Further Reading