West Perry Elementary’s school community recently took on a project to help Kentucky State Police bring a bit of joy to children going through traumatic situations.
The school’s participation in the Trooper Teddy program is one of many projects the school’s booster club undertakes to help children in the community and the group has found a unique way to add to what the program already offers.
Kendra Dixon, who works with the booster club, participates in the school’s early steps to school success program, conducts home visits with prenatal moms and children 0-3 years and does bookbag exchanges for 3-5 year olds through West Perry Elementary, said she was inspired to partner with KSP after hearing of a similar program.
“We had heard about in another state a sheriffs’ office doing something similar to this, so when we found out about the Trooper Teddy program with KSP and what they do, they kind of aim towards kids who have been through adverse things or traumatic experiences,” Dixon said. “We just knew that would be a great way to partner and to add books and early educational materials, along with the teddy bear they take to the kids.”
Trooper Jody Sims with Kentucky State Police Post 13 spoke highly of the partnership.
Sims said that the goals the goals that organizers at West Perry had in mind and the Trooper Teddy program seemed like a good match.
“They approached KSP Post 13 just letting us know what they do and just seeing if theres a way we could work together with our cause and it just so happened that KSP had a Trooper Teddy program which was started in 1989 by Gov. Wallace Wilkinson’s wife, Martha Wilkinson,” Sims said, adding that the program had been inactive for some time but has been brought back in recent years.
“The first lady came up with this idea of doing fundraisers and so forth to provide teddy bears that troopers could give out to children who were involved in some type of traumatic situation wether it be a serious or fatal car crash, a domestic violence situation or having to be removed from a home,” Sims said. “The initial program ran out of funding in the early 2000s and, just a few years ago through some fundraisers and donations from all across the state, we were able to restart the Trooper Teddy program.”
The teddy bears, he said, can provide a great deal of comfort to the children.
“The teddy bears were a source of comfort and a way for them to maybe channel their emotions and feelings with that bear and kind of help them sort of start pulling away from the traumatic incident and just have a source of comfort,” Sims said. “So, to be able to provide the teddy bear program, along with the group here at West Perry’s addition of the books and materials for the children and their parents, guardian or whoever they are in the home with, we hope to provide not only a comfort but a way for these children and their families to interact in a positive way, and to also provide an early educational foundation for them.”
Dixon said the students were heavily involved with the entire process and other volunteer experiences. “Anytime I do a project at school such as literacy night, our Christmas program or ‘Christmas in a Small Town,’ anything that i’m involved in, I always ask them if they want to help out,” said Dixon. “We usually do a story walk or something like that and they’re just always great to step up and help.”
Seventh graders Kelsey McDaniels and Paige Asher helped this week to load materials gathered by the booster club into an awaiting KSP cruiser Tuesday.
“I like doing it, this is the first year I’ve done this much stuff with kids,” said McDaniels. “I like doing it and hope to keep doing it throughout the year.”
Dixon said McDaniels and Asher had even stuffed the educational materials into the books.
“Hopefully, this will be something we get to continue,” said Dixon. “Hopefully, it will continue on and on and spread.”
Sims also expressed a desire to see the partnership grow.
“We’re in our beginnings, but we look forward to this being a successful collaboration,” he said. “We hope that it’s something we can do for many years to come. It’s just a wonderful opportunity to try to touch the life of a child in a positive way.”