Wayside Waifs helps lick bullying - KCTV5 News

Wayside Waifs helps lick bullying through anti-violence program

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Justin Schmidt/KCTV Justin Schmidt/KCTV
Justin Schmidt/KCTV Justin Schmidt/KCTV

Old dogs are teaching young pups some new tricks.

A Kansas City nonprofit organization is using four-legged companions to help counsel children. And it's a program that's working because of the bonds it creates.

Wayside Waifs takes their No More Bullies! program into schools like Dobbs Elementary in Kansas City, MO, hoping to teach kids about respecting animals and people.

Wally is an English cocker spaniel and black lab mix. He's taught in 18 schools throughout the metro, connecting with kids in every classroom.

"I liked it when we learned words and when Wally did his tricks," fifth-grader LaKenzie Baileyhouse said.

Jo Dean Hearn, Wally's person, said No More Bullies! works because of the animals.

"We know that children can connect easily with animals because animals are vulnerable and only get what's given to them. Children can relate to that," Hearn said. "Children who bully animals generally grow up to bully people. What we do is teach children how to get respect in the right way. All a bully wants is respect. These animals help them learn how to get respect and be responsible by showing compassion."

Hearn said she hears from former students who still remember Wally and his lessons.

"The animal is kind of like the glue that holds it together and helps them remember what they've learned. They can connect quickly with that animal and its needs," she said.

Respect is the core message of the education program.

"It teaches you not to bully. If you bully, you're a bad person, really. You're supposed to have respect for everyone," fifth-grader DeMario Jones said.

Hearn said bullies often start with animals, then move on to children.

"We teach how to be compassionate to animals and self control and have integrity. We teach how it relates to animals and translate that into the person sitting next to them," she said.

October is National Anti-Bullying Month.

Over the last five years, Wayside Waifs said No More Bullies! has yielded some remarkable results. Throughout each school year, teachers in classrooms using No More Bullies! saw improvement in student behavior, better test scores and better respect amongst students for themselves and their peers.

According to Wayside Waifs, their No More Bullies! program is in such high demand that educators and volunteers are in classrooms across the Kansas City area each week of the entire school year and still have a lengthy waiting list of additional schools interested in teaching the curriculum for grades three through five.

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