Five years ago was a big year for our now family. Little did we know, working at Macky’s Bayside Bar and Grill would develop so many long-lasting relationships in our lives. It’s how my mommy and daddy met, it’s how my paw-rents met many of their best friends now, and it’s how Miss Katie that works at the St. Francis Neighborhood Center and Meowmy met as well. So when Miss Katie wrote to us and asked if we could come visit her after-school program, it was a no-brainer- DUH!
So we cleared a day on our schedule and drove up to Baltimore! The St. Francis Neighborhood Center’s main mission is to end generational poverty in their area. They raise awareness and work with the children from the Reservoir Hill and Penn North areas of Baltimore.
We developed a presentation for the children that led to an awesome conversation! There were two groups of students, the first group was a little older, I want to say 4-6th grade; and the second group was teeny-tiny, like Kindergarten-Second grade. Our presentation was simple, but fun! At its heart was a positive message about being kind to animals.
We started the presentation by giving each small group of students a newspaper article that had been written about Pip. Since the children didn’t already know about him, it was fun for them to see that he had been in printed news.
Of course, this is when the questions started flying, “Is he famous?!?!”
Now we get asked this a lot, and fame is really a strange term. I think some people think that if someone is famous it means they make a lot of money, but the two don’t always go hand in hand and I don’t want the kids to think that Pip is a millionaire or something. So I always ask students back, “What does it mean to be famous?”
Of course for this age group, it means that they have a lot of followers online. So I said, “Does having 20,000 TikTok followers make a cat famous?” And this is when the kids screamed, “PIP HAS A TIKTOK?!?!”
So I handed out Pip’s “business cards” and the kids were so excited to look him up later. The entire reason we made a TikTok for Pip was because when we first got him, I was teaching 6th grade math for a few months, and the kids were really upset that Pip was starting to grow an audience but they couldn’t watch his videos because they didn’t have Facebook or Instagram, so they asked if we could make him a TikTok so they could see what he was up to, and of course we did.
So, back to the presentation. The kids had so many questions they wanted to ask, so I told them that I would show them two short video clips that might answer a lot of their questions. We always show Pip’s AnimalKind feature because it explains very well why he ended up being an adventure cat, and how he went from homeless to talk of the town. And then I show them Brooke Butler’s first feature on Pip for WMDT, because it is the last time the ocean and air was warm enough for Pip to go out on his boogie board, plus it is an amazing introduction to who Pip is!
After those clips, we always ask if there are still questions, and it’s so much fun seeing what everyone still wants to know!
Then we move into the important part of the lesson, which is, discussing how animals want or don’t want to be treated. We always like to get to know the kids as well, so we ask their names and if they have any pets, in this case about half the class had pets, and half did not. This helps us know as well which kids have had experiences with animals. So we open up the discussion regarding the proper treatment of animals. First we discuss things animals don’t like, and then we talk about what they do like! The kids share silly things their pets like as well! Then I teach a little bit about what Pip likes and doesn’t like.
We ask if there are any other questions and then we close the lesson by introducing the kids to Pip’s current projects! Because hey, if a cat can write his own book, then so can a kid!
Last, but not least, Pip performs his tricks! And if all is going well, he will usually give a few kids a high-five too!