Critter Campus

During the 2009-2010 League year, JLW’s Critter Campus committee worked in tandem with the Kansas Humane Society (KHS) to create and implement a new educational program called Read to Rover. The beginning of the League year was filled with strategic planning and curriculum creation and Critter Campus was able to host monthly Read to Rover workshops starting with our pilot event in January 2010.

The Read to Rover program focuses on empowering young children (Kindergarten – 3rd grade) by giving them confidence in their reading ability. The kids read books aloud to trained therapy dogs and their handlers in a tent, encouraging a fun, nonjudgmental, “camp-out” atmosphere. The trainers and their dogs are KHS volunteers who have been certified by Therapy Dogs International (TDI) and want to help promote literacy in our community. The handlers offer only gentle reassurance and friendly coaching advice such as, “Rover doesn’t know that word. Do you know what it means?” When reading to the dog, the child is in a friendly environment where judgment is withheld.

Read to Rover can accommodate twelve children in each session. One half of the KHS Learning Center is turned into a craft room, where children can color or do crafts with volunteers while waiting for their turn to read. The other half of the Learning Center (separated by a room divider) houses four tents with pillows and reading materials for the children. At the beginning of each workshop, the children are shown a video on how to properly approach a dog and proper manners with dogs. Then the TDI teams are introduced so kids have a chance to meet the dogs they will be reading to. At the end of the workshop, children receive a complimentary copy of Leroy the Ugly Dog by local author and TDI certified trainer Janice Ronald to take home.

Over the past year, JLW and KHS have taken Read to Rover from conception to development and coordination of the program, including active recruitment of trained therapy handlers and their dogs and developing contacts within USD 259.

KHS is committed to continuing and growing Read to Rover beyond our partnership time constraints. Eventually, they would like to expand the curriculum to include more kids and animal safety education. KHS is currently seeking funding to hire an Education Director to help further Read to Rover once the JLW year is over and our time together has ended.

“The Read to Rover program is a great addition to our educational outreach program,” said Kristi Oberg, Director of Development.
“Not only does it provide a literacy outreach for children, but it provides families and children a fun and educational way to learn about the mission of the Kansas Humane Society, which is to save animal lives.”

Junior League of Wichita

6402 East 12th Street
Wichita, Kansas 67206-1306
Phone: 316.682.7473