With more than 500,000 elementary and middle school students having already been given the opportunity to interact with pets on a daily basis in their classroom, the Pet Care Trust board has announced a new goal for its Pets in the Classroom Grant Program: Within the next five years, Pets in the Classroom will introduce 5 million children in 100,000 classrooms to pets and the benefits they provide.
The new goal for this teacher grant program comes after the much quicker-than-anticipated growth of the program in the last couple of years:
The Trust Board set a long-term goal of reaching 1 million kids by providing 30,000 Pets in the Classroom grants, said Pet Care Trust executive director Steve King. We have reached the half-way point to this goal far sooner than any of us thought possible. It really is a remarkable achievement thanks to the Boards foresight and the support of so many pet retailers and suppliers.
While the growth of the program began slowly, providing 3,200 grants in the 2010-2011 school year, the addition of Pets in the Classroom grants through Petsmart and Petco, along with rebate grants supported by independent pet stores, resulted in an increase to over 6,000 grants for the 2011-12 school year. Also, in the beginning of 2012, the program expanded to include 7th and 8th grade classrooms, while in previous years the grants had only been available to pre-k – 6th grade teachers. This expansion to include middle school classrooms increased the number of students impacted by the grants, making the overall average of students impacted over 50 students per classroom. Then, in preparation for the 2012-13 school year, the Trust added additional programs through Pet Supermarket and Carolina Biological Supply. The response from teachers in the first two months of this new school year has been overwhelming. More than 6,800 grants have been issued since August 1, bringing the total to 15,500 grants since the programs inception.
The Pets in the Classroom program benefits students by teaching them responsible, long-term pet care at an early age and providing the psychological and developmental benefits associated with the human-animal bond. Studies have shown that caring for pets has a positive effect on children, improving school attendance and teaching children responsibility, as well as encouraging nurturing and building self esteem. To learn more about the benefits of classroom pets as well as more about the Pets in the Classroom grant program, visit www.petsintheclassroom.org.