Ten girls from the Youth Crisis Center’s Residential Crisis Care program, ages 10-17, read to shelter animals at the Jacksonville Humane Society on April 30, in recognition of National Adopt A Shelter Dog Day. YCC is partnered with the Jacksonville Humane Society’s Pawsitive Reading program, through which youth visit the shelter to read to the animals, providing enrichment for students, dogs and cats. The Pawsitive Reading program promotes literacy, empathy and volunteerism while helping dogs and cats find their forever home. This program also allows young people to practice their reading skills in a safe and fun environment.
It helps youth feel like their homework “isn’t really homework” and allows them to gain confidence in their ability to read aloud. YCC is posting photos of the girls reading to the animals on its social media sites in hopes of helping the animals get adopted.
“It is rewarding to partner with the Youth Crisis Center, and we are grateful to The Jim Moran Foundation for making our Pawsitive Reading program possible,” Denise Deisler, Jacksonville Humane Society CEO, said. “This support from our community enriches the lives of shelter animals and provides children with an escape into the wonderful world of books with a furry companion.” The readers also benefit by receiving a book to take home courtesy of The Jim Moran Foundation.
Students from the Youth Crisis Center’s Residential Crisis Care program are among the homeless, runaway, ungovernable and/or truant population or may have parents or caregivers that are struggling with parenting issues and need assistance and support. The chance to read to animals provides the girls with an opportunity to learn empathy, patience and understanding of animals that are timid, fearful or high-energy. Reading aloud to the animals can create a calming effect on both the animal and the student doing the reading.
Latasha, a youth staying at YCC, was reading to Playdough in late March when someone came in to adopt him. “It was exciting to read to a dog that was abandoned because then he wasn’t sad anymore.” Latasha said she loves animals and was happy that Playdough found a home to go to.
“Reading to the animals teaches the children the importance of volunteering in their community and helps them gain confidence that they can make a difference in someone or in this case in an animal’s life,” said Kim Sirdevan, president and CEO of Youth Crisis Center. “It also gives them a chance to steer their focus away from their own struggles and challenges by giving them the chance to read and interact with the animals and staff at the shelter.”
The children are allowed to choose and keep one of the selected titles from the Jacksonville Humane Society’s library. The following titles are funded and provided by The Jim Moran Foundation: Are You Ready For Me? by Claire Buchwald, It’s Raining Cats & Cats by Jeanne Prevost, Socks by Beverly Cleary, Ribsy by Beverly Cleary, Dewey the Library Cat by Vicki Myron, Racing in the Rain: My Life as a Dog by Garth Stein and Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul by Jack Canfield et al
To date, girls and boys from YCC have logged over 32 volunteer hours since YCC began participation in the Pawsitive Reading program.