By Bethany Kirk
American Red Cross, Volunteer
Kadena Air Base, Japan. Summer vacation may still be in full swing, but children continue to learn valuable reading skills here on Okinawa. Puppy Tales, an American Red Cross Animal Reading Program, is supporting young readers on Kadena Air Base. Participants of this program practice their reading skills in a positive, judgment-free environment. This program is offered to SOFA-status members in grades 1-5.
“The dogs provide that emotional connection with people, so often times, even just petting them can provide comfort,” says Alicia Erler, a program volunteer.
Erler has been volunteering with her pup, Ace, since April 2018. She is a teacher by trade and loves how this program brings together her passion for teaching and animals. “I knew this would be a great way to get involved with the community and spend time with my beloved labradors.” Before volunteering with Puppy Tales, Ace completed both a health evaluation and temperament exam at the Kadena Veterinary Clinic.
The Puppy Tales program supports between 6-8 young readers every week and continues to grow in popularity on base. “The families absolutely love seeing their children become comfortable in this setting and read aloud to the dogs,” says Erler. While the puppy’s offer a friendly companion, Erler exercises her teaching skills to help readers sound out difficult words and encourages them to show Ace book illustrations.
The Puppy Tales program is a partnership of the American Red Cross and Kadena Library.
To become a volunteer or enroll your child, please contact the American Red Cross on Kadena Air Base at 643-1294 or the Kadena Library at 634-1502.