Special needs students at Oak Harbor High School recently used their skills and interests to bring treats and toys to the dogs and cats at WAIF Animal Shelter.
“I just did what I’m good at, which is sewing,” said Rebecka Fields, 15.
The life skills class used an Oak Harbor Education Fund grant to bake around 200 organic dog treats and sew around 100 cat toys, which were given to the animal shelter last Friday.
As part of the month-long effort, students created a name and logo for their “brand,” made and stuck to a budget, went grocery shopping for dog treat supplies, baked the treats and sewed toy mice with catnip inside.
“I liked baking the dog treats,” said Ashtyn Cooper, 15.
Cooper not only enjoys baking, but he loves animals and wants to be a veterinarian technician after college.
Cooper said the treats are essentially like normal peanut butter cookies without sugar. He admitted to taste-testing one.
“It tastes like an unflavored cookie,” he said.
Another student, Isaac Johnson, initially showed a disinterest in sewing, according to life skills teacher Rob Keller. However, as the project went on he found he was pretty good at sewing and he later would work on the toy mice during his free time.
“It’s a skill we would never had known he had if we hadn’t done it,” said Janice Flinn, a speech pathologist for the class. “It’s a good journey.”
Other aspects of the project, such as the requirement to sit down and work on a sustained activity, are also in alignment with the class’s goal, Flinn said, which is to prepare the students to live as independently as possible.
“This is something that they were involved in every single step of the way,” Keller said. “We helped them, obviously, but they were involved from the very start when it was just at the concept level to where we actually get to donate all the products we made.”
Keller said this is the first project the class has done with a community service component, and he hopes to do more.
Flinn said she noticed the students were more self-motivated during this project than they often are with normal school work.
For Fields, she not only enjoys sewing, but she loves cats. She was so motivated by the project, she took some of the mice toys home to work on.
“It makes me warm hearted to know that I’m going to be giving felines that are in need something to enrich their lives,” she said.