I’m a Kind Kid!

Elway, a rescued donkey, visits with one of the students from the Mini-MAPA after school class. Vicki and Fred Hanson are Elway’s rescuers and caretakers.

[May 2019 | San Juan Silver Stage | By Wendy Burrell] Photos by MAPA.

For the past 15 years, the Montrose Elementary After School Program has hosted Montrose Protection Agency’s pet care and safety class for kids. The class, aptly named Mini-MAPA, runs during the first and fourth quarters of the year, one afternoon a week. It is taught by volunteers who are members of MAPA’s Education Committee. The students encompass K-5 grades with 15 kids being the maximum limit for class size. Sharon Penasa, the Montrose Elementary After School Program Director, says of the class, “The ‘Pet’ class is a popular addition to our program. We always seem to have a waiting list, and students sign up for the class year after year. Students love learning about animals and how to care for them.”

During the class, the children are taught about kindness to animals and how to take care of them, in addition to being safe around pets. Most incidents of bites, scratches, and bruises are due to children who aren’t aware of an animal’s body language and what it means.

Mini-MAPA students are engaged by the many wonderful, humane, education-themed books and activities, as well as various guest speakers. Towards the end of the term, the kids are treated to a field trip to the Montrose Animal Shelter, where they are given a tour of the facility and some hands-on time with the cats and/or kittens in the cattery playroom. The students are checked thoroughly before boarding the bus to ensure that no shelter residents return to school with them!

Students in MAPA’s summer program learned all about the work of therapy dogs from a visit with Molly, a certified therapy dog, and her handler, Wendy. Aljean Greenacre was the group’s instructor for the weeklong class sponsored by MAPA and the Recreation District.

At the culminating class, students receive a MAPA t-shirt that reads ‘I’m a Kind Kid,’ plus photos from previous class events. MAPA Education Committee Co-Chairperson, Sue Kroll, feels that, “We hope early introduction to safe and compassionate ways to interact with pets will lead to safer children and happier, healthier lives for pets and their owners.”

MAPA is thankful for the opportunity that the Montrose Elementary After School Program has afforded them for their educational outreach efforts. It is the perfect venue for Mini-MAPA and our Kind Kids.

Wendy Burrell is the author of the newly published Wilbur Wings His Way Home. She is an instructor in the Mini-MAPA program.

Photo Credits: Photos courtesy of MAPA.