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Third graders at Mountain Vista make dog toys to donate to Freedom Service Dogs

two girls smiling holding up dog bandanaThird graders at Mountain Vista Elementary made dog and cat toys to donate to Freedom Service Dogs on May 15. They began this project as a part of their “Growing Community” class—a social-emotional learning course that teaches respect and positivity. 

“As a community, how can we build each other up? I always tell my students, ‘My goal for you is that when you come into the classroom, you leave better than when you walked in,’” said teacher Traci Tielbur. “I want them to know that you need to be the change you wish to see in this world.”

Ashley Cooke, volunteer and parent of third grader Kason, said, “I think GC is important because it gives the kids an opportunity to do something different out of their day and also learn about different people and how people do things differently from them. I think the biggest thing that my kids have taken away is to have a positive attitude towards themselves and others.”

To fully immerse her students in the philosophy of “growing community” Tielbur wanted her students to participate in a service project and decided pets would be the perfect audience for third grade. To carry-out the project, the organization Kynd Kits donated 52 pet toy-making kits to Mountain Vista. 

Third grade student Mackenzie said, “I really like this project because knowing that we're helping people and dogs is really cool.” 

Her peer, Pernali, echoed her excitement about the project and Growing Community, “I like GC because we get to learn a lot of new stuff and make new friends. We learn about trustworthiness, safety, ownership, motivation, and positivity. We also learngirl making dog toy about taking care of people.” 

The third graders braided over 100 dog toys and decorated over 50 bandanas for Freedom Service Dogs.The bandana designs included flowers, paw prints, and “I love dogs” drawn in colorful markers. 

Not only are the students giving back to their community, but they’re supporting an organization that does so much for its community—teaching them about cycles of service and the importance of supporting community organizations. Freedom Service Dogs pairs custom-trained service dogs with veterans with PTSD, children and teens with autism and other neurocognitive disabilities, and individuals with physical challenges. 

“We’re so lucky that we’re able to do this and provide for someone else,” Tielbur said. “It teaches empathy, compassion, and respect for someone else who is different from us. We all can come together and help each other out just for the betterment of our Mountain Vista community and Aurora.”

Three students and their parents will join Tielbur next week to deliver the toys.

Posted 5/17/2023.