Buckner Dallas afterschool program takes a walk on the wild side

It’s not every day you get to be a zookeeper, cowboy and farmer all before dinnertime. But for children at the Buckner Wynnewood Family Hope Center in Dallas, the wild side was the only side when EwePet Petting Zoo visited the afterschool program last week.

Energized by the unexpected sunshine and new animal faces, children rode through the summer-green grass on a black and white pony, stroked the course hide of a chocolate-brown miniature cow and made friends with a motley crew of ducks, chickens, pigs, goats, tortoises and even a llama.

The petting zoo was made possible by idGroup, a Dallas-based design company. The company hosted a “play-it-forward” teambuilding program in which teams of four to five employees were given $150 to make a difference in the community. Three teams combined their efforts to partner with EwePet and create an unforgettable afternoon for Buckner children.

“They [idGroup] are trying to help us value how the little things matter,” said Tasha Ooley, an idGroup designer who helped organize the event. “This is only two hours, but to these kids it’s a good memory.”

According to Erika Beck, lead life skills specialist for Buckner Wynnewood, the afterschool program often tries to incorporate hands-on activities for kids to learn and get outside their comfort zones.

“I love to do new things with the kids and expose them to something different,” Beck said. “They come here Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m., so we try to do a whole lot in a little time. Most of us don't leave the city often so to have animal life come to them is pretty awesome.”

EwePet, a family owned and operated business, has been serving Dallas and Fort Worth for 13 years at the Scarborough Faire, church and school functions and birthday parties. This is the second time they’ve worked with the Wynnewood Family Hope Center.

“It’s kind of neat to expose them to different animals that they’ve never had a chance to walk up and pet,” said Jeanne Wilson, a EwePet zookeeper. “Most of them haven’t seen a llama, haven’t seen a cow. And getting them to interact with the animals is fun to watch.”

The afterschool program is for children ages 7 to 12 and offers a variety of activities throughout the week, including Bible studies, hands-on activities and field trips.

By: Elizabeth Arnold

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