Dogs educate Kansas City students about responsibility, compassion and respect

An estimated 160,000 children stay home from school each day because they're afraid of being bullied. That's according to the U.S. Department of Education. But there's a unique program that's trying to take a bite out of bullying. It was started in Kansas City, Mo. and it has gained national attention.  

Dogs of all sizes in area classrooms are helping lick the cycle of bullying and other bad behaviors. Wayside Waifs launched a program called ‘No More Bullies' five years ago and educators say it's making an impact.

Bruce Lane is a 4 th grade student at Attucks Elementary School in Kansas City, Mo. who recently took part in the program. Lane said he learned a lot during that week including, "compassion and how to treat kids…and no bullying. "

With a dog's help, students in grades three through five are taught four core values: responsibility, compassion, self control and integrity. Those values in turn have a positive impact on kids' behavior.

Geneva Torrence is a classmate of Lane's. She said, "You should do what you're supposed to do and help others when they need it and tell a teacher that something's going on that shouldn't be going on."

"Animals need our help but children also need our help," said JoDean Hearn. Hearn is the Humane Education Director at Wayside Waifs and a former teacher. She helped develop the curriculum that's presented in classrooms an hour each day, five days a week.

"We want to teach them to love each other and love animals and do the right thing for themselves and animals," said Hearn. "The animals are the glue that helps the children stay focused and understand the message. "

Wayside Waifs' ‘No More Bullies' program is so popular, they are currently working in 15 schools and there's a long waiting list of requests from area classrooms.

Established in 1944, Wayside Waifs owns nearly 44 acres in south Kansas City, Mo. and is a not-for-profit humane society and animal welfare organization. To learn more about animal adoption, ways to donate or volunteer and other programs offered by Wayside Waifs, visit http://waysidewaifs.org .

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