Section: archive

Imagining a more humane life for Knox Co. animals

Imagining a more humane life for Knox Co. animals

By Julie France

I figured out that you should adopt because most dogs are kind of average, but you can find a really good one that fits your personality and that you really love. Whereas once you buy [from a pet shop], they just like getting to know you and they dont have any affection because they dont know what its like to be without somebody, said third-grader Beckett Chun of Wiggin Street Elementarys competitive Destination Imagination (DI) team.

Lots of animals are being killed each year, most of them dogs, and if you buy a dog, thats one less dog that you couldve saved. It just makes me feel really, really bad, because I bought two dogs and Ive only rescued two dogs, said third-grade DI member Maggie Jacobs.

Chun and Jacobs are two out of seven kids on the DI team comprised of six third-graders and one first-grader who have been working hard since Sept. 2012 on a yearlong challenge: advocating for adopting pets from pounds and shelters and compiling a documentary about it, Helping Paws for Kids.

Pretty much, we were trying to help all the dogs that die each year. So, we are trying to save them from being killed, said third-grader Charlie Svoboda-Barber.

Destination Imagination, a national non-profit program, was established in 1999, and schools across the country, from elementary schools to colleges, now have DI clubs.

Its a club where you brainstorm, work together … and act, … so its this really cool group … that, like, changes the way people feel and what they do, Jacobs said.

After working every Thursday after school for six months, the DI team is about to feel a sense of completion after its first round of judging at the regional level. Regionals will take place on March 16 at Reynoldsburg Summit High School.

They are graded on the teamwork as well as the outcome and the creativity of it, Jon Chun, parent mentor of the DI group, said.

Although Jon Chun mentors the team and Wiggin Street Elementary second-grade teacher Heather Waugh serves as its faculty advisor, the kids are supposed to do everything themselves, according to Jon Chun.

Several of the kids are musical and may perform the background soundtrack [to the documentary] in addition to doing voice-over work, Jon Chun said.

Charlie is learning not only how to use our camera and our tripod, but then how to put that onto the computer and how to slice that up. So, the kids are supposed to be doing all of that, said Helen Svoboda-Barber, rector of Harcourt Parish and DI mentor for the non-competitive kindergarten DI team.

In preparation for regionals, the DI team held a school assembly at Wiggin Street Elementary this past Thursday, Feb. 21, where team members gave speeches on why people should adopt rather than buy pets. They collected pet food, toys, office supplies and other items for the Knox County Humane Society.

The Wiggin Street assembly had an effect not only on the students, but also on the parents.

Immediately after they started the DI project in the fall, our five-year-old son said, Oh, were going to get a pet because of this, and we said, Oh, no, no, no. Then, the Chuns didnt have a pet either, and now both of us have puppies from the shelter, Helen Svoboda-Barber said.

From day one, the DI team knew that it wanted to do a charity challenge, but was not sure which cause it wanted to support.

When we were in the process of figuring out things, when we already knew we wanted to do something with adoption, third-grader and team member Lucy Ogle said. There was this video [Mr. Chun] showed. It was of a man who came up and he was like, So youre getting a new dog, and he was like, Yep! and there was this trash bag that he pulled up on the table, and he said, Heres the dog you killed, and we were like, That, that makes it effective, and then he stopped the video because he said, Does that affect you? We were like, Well it lets the brain think on about what could have happened after that.

Before arriving at the decision to make a documentary, however, the DI team was busy contacting prospective resources.

Wiggin Street Elementary third-grader and DI team member Trey Stetler said, I called Walmart. We were going to sell cookies in the shape of dogs, but that didnt work out very well. We were also thinking about doing a bake sale on Middle Path.

Elizabeth Diehl, third-grader on the DI team, said, I called … [The Mount Vernon News] so we could talk to them … and the newspaper did respond saying that they were grateful to do [an ad for] 50-some dollars.

Charlie Svoboda-Barber said, We decided to have an assembly … instead of us using the money [from a $125 budget]. We didnt use a penny.

Though saving the lives of shelter animals is the teams goal, life lessons have followed suit.

What Ive learned is you need to let other people have a chance to talk. You need to give them a chance to show their ideas, Ogle said.

[starbox id=”juliefrance”]


Comments for this article have closed. If you'd like to send a letter to the editor for publication, please email us at