Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union Unites Kids and Shelter Animals
Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union is excited to sponsor a collaboration between the Greater Lowell Family YMCA and Lowell Humane Society that offers a summer reading program for children, as well as animals. The program allows children at the YMCA to read aloud to dogs, cats, rabbits and other shelter animals that are awaiting adoption.
The first session of the seven-week Tales 4 Tails program was held on Tuesday, July 9th. The students will continue to visit Lowell Humane Society two times per week during the summer. Kids aged 9-13 will read to the animals on Tuesdays and kids aged 5-8 will read to animals on Thursdays. Each reading session lasts one hour, and the students choose their own books to read.
“We are very excited to offer this reading program for the young students in our community, as well as the animals at Lowell Humane Society,” said Mark S. Cochran, President and Chief Executive Officer of Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union. “This is a great way to bring two very important community organizations together for a great cause,” he added.
Many organizations, shelters and libraries across the country have instituted similar programs. Programs such as these help children become more comfortable with reading in a fun and unique way.
“Oftentimes when you see kids in a classroom setting, they get nervous when they get called on to read because they are afraid they will be made fun of, or they are just hesitant because they don’t have the confidence in themselves yet,” said Erin Hebert, Program Director and Summer Reading Program Coordinator at the Greater Lowell Family YMCA. “When reading to animals, there’s no judgement, so it gives the children the ability to build confidence in their reading while giving companionship to the animals,” she added.
Hebert chooses the children who participate in the Tales 4 Tails program, and also conducts her own reading activities at the YMCA to instill the joy of reading in children.
Her goal is to spark new opportunities for students through the power of reading, and she says this program helps her do that. After the first session of the program the students were looking forward to going back and reading to more animals.
“I got home on Tuesday, and my heart was so full,” Hebert said.
As for the shelter animals, they get the opportunity to interact with the kids and they learn to trust people, which increases their chances of adoption. It also helps the pets destress from shelter life.
“Being in the cage and being around unfamiliar animals and unfamiliar people is stressful in and of itself, so having the kids sit and quietly read to them allows the pets to have interaction with someone that isn’t stressful,” said Crystal Arnott, Communications and Fundraising Manager at Lowell Humane Society.
The participants read to the animals before the shelter opens to the public. Arnott explains that giving pets this time for calm human interaction before the shelter gets busy helps keep the animals relaxed when potential adopters visit. Animals are able to better present themselves to ultimately be placed in forever homes.
“I’m so happy that it has been such an easy collaboration,” said Arnott. “The needs are actually pretty similar for each group, whether it’s the animals or the kids. The kids are looking for that same interaction of not being judged for their reading, with no expectations from the animals, and the animals don’t have expectations on them. They are looking for the same thing and getting it.”
Photo cutline: Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union has partnered with Lowell Humane Society and the Greater Lowell Family YMCA to offer a summer reading program which allows kids to visit animals at the shelter and read to them.