The Orange County Kinship Center, an adoption/foster care center, held the “Canines ♥Kids” party on February 11 hosted by Junior Girl Scouts Troop 855. This special Valentine's-themed party brought together foster children and six therapy dogs from the Animal Health Foundation (AHF), BARK (Beach Animals Reading with Kids), and Love on a Leash. AHF teams in attendance were Amy and McKenzie Leveque with Flora, Jane Horsfield with Kiss, Daleen Comer with Bonnie, and Kris Bonham with Andre, joined by Acacia Comer with Macy (Love on a Leash) and Jill Pollard with Zip (BARK).
At the party, the children read books to the dogs, petted and brushed them, and had the dogs do tricks for treats. They each received a reading book from BARK and a dog-themed coloring book from AHF. Each child and dog went home with a special goodie bag from Troop 855, too.
This fun and festive afternoon was the concept and hard work of fifth graders Taryn Uyematsu, Jennifer Liu, and Lauren Kuo. The three scouts designed this event to earn their Bronze Award—the highest achievement within Junior Girl Scouts. To fulfill the award requirements, the scouts must complete a service project that helps their community. They also need to log a minimum of 15 hours of work toward the project.
These girls went above and beyond the requirements with their time and creativity. They started planning this party in September. First, they brainstormed their project idea of throwing a fun party where foster kids could interact with registered therapy dogs. Therapy animals are known to help people reduce stress and anxiety, forget their worries, and feel happy.
The scouts then met several times over the past few months. They coordinated with therapy dog volunteer Daleen Comer and Kinship's Nina Yamasaki. They planned their budget, wrote reports, learned about therapy dogs and pet care, purchased supplies, collected donations, assembled activity books, painted banners, and stuffed goodie bags. The girls even attended an AHF evaluation so they could observe the testing process. The scouts worked hard at the party where they made welcome speeches, supervised the dog reading station, distributed refreshments, led three craft stations, and assisted the Kinship kids for the afternoon.
Lauren, Taryn and Jennifer greatly appreciate Kinship Center and AHF for their assistance in making the “Canines ♥ Kids” party possible. These scouts sincerely hope that the therapy dogs and festive afternoon brought joy, comfort, and compassion to the Kinship kids who attended.