Wednesday, October 26, 2016

After School Program

One of my favorite visits is the ones we do at the libraries. So when we went to the Lawncrest library this past week it put me in a good mood. I grew up spending a lot of time in a library. I loved the excitement of combing the shelves looking for a mystery or a book about animals. My weekly excursions there usually netted me a pile of books that would start a new adventure for me. Our visit at the Lawncrest library was part of an after school program that was catered to the neighborhood kids. This is an area in Philadelphia that is doing its part in rejuvenation. The neighborhood even has a small garden behind the library for the local kids to work on. I noticed a patch of vegetables growing and even a friendship bench. Since this was a new program for this library it was limited to 20 students. The students were in the 5th and 6th grade, and all of them were accomplished readers. After our general introduction where we each said a little about our animal (we were there with 3 dogs and 1 rabbit) the kids were split into smaller groups so each child would have an opportunity to read and interact with an animal. After 15 minutes the groups would rotate and at the end of the hour each group would have visited each animal. A few kids were creative and while they read turned the book so Maggie could see the pictures. So does Maggie really listen to the stories? She does. She will watch the kids and even lay her head on their laps. At some point she may fall asleep. If one of the kids mentions this to me I tell them they have done a good job soothing her. I also tell them that she is still listening. Sometime I compare it to them listening to their parents even when they are not looking at them. They seem to like that explanation the best. This turned out to be a really nice visit. I do have a couple of thoughts about these kids. Compared to other places we have visited, these kids did not come in and start telling me about their dog(s). I can really only think of two kids that mentioned their neighbor’s dog or a cousin’s dog. One girl mentioned that her father promised her a dog, a Golden Retriever. When I asked her what she planned on naming the dog she said she didn’t know. I suggested she go home and think about it. There was one girl in this program who had difficulty sitting still and following directions. This could be for any number of reasons, but it was something that bothered me only because I found myself correcting her several times throughout the program. Maggie has sensitive areas and doesn’t like to be pet on her paws, around her face and we never allow anyone to touch her tail for fear they will pull it. So when this girl couldn’t listen to me I found I had to put myself between her and Maggie , basically to protect Maggie. So what did this girl do at the end of the program? She came running over to me and gave me a big hug and thanked me for coming out and bringing Maggie. I found myself overcome with emotion and I wish I could tell you why. Before I could regain my composure and respond to her she had skipped off. I find myself constantly reminded not to judge anyone. As we never know what is going on in someone’s personal life. The small act of gratitude this young girl showed me is something I will cherish for quite some time.

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