“I knew we would win, “ said Noah with a beaming smile. His enthusiasm contagious as he, Kyle, and Cody gave each other high fives after the announcement. The Arc of San Antonio was selected as one of the three champions as part of the Team Up Challenge presented by the Silver & Black Give Back Foundation and AT&T. The teens created
Team Up 4 Pets which provides dog and cat food for pet loving home-bound seniors and families experiencing financial hardship. Often, seniors and families in economic distress cannot provide for their four-legged friends.
For one hour each day, the Team Up 4 Pets crew packaged donated pet food into gallon-sized zip lock bags and distributed the pet meals through Meals On Wheels, local food pantries and animal rescue groups.
The Team Up 4 Pets Project is a great way for our teens to learn multiple life, social, vocational and community awareness skills. They’ve learned how to create and
work in an assembly line to scoop, package and label food. They’re realizing how to benefit from each other’s specific abilities and disabilities.
Cody, has cerebral palsy and is limited with his mobility. But that doesn’t stop him from helping with the “We work fast together because she peels the label fast and I can stick it on,” Cody says with a sense of pride. All of the teens, no matter the disability, work on the project. The teens with limited mobility stack the completed packages on their wheelchair trays and transport them to a long table to unload.
By working within a team, the children are learning social skills. And, as expected, some disputes arise. The word around school is that scooping the food into the bags
is the coveted job. The team developed a great work around that was also budget-friendly.
Then of course, we had the cat lovers vs. the dog lovers. At first, some team members only wanted to package either cat or dog food. But after a team meeting about how all pets need to eat nutritional food each day, they were able to find a common ground.
This project not only gives back to the community, it also continues to teach children with disabilities a multitude of skills so that they do not regress during the summer while out of school. There is a true sense of job ownership as team members stake their
claim on the scooping, zipping or labeling jobs. A sense of duty toward these animals has also been instilled. As Kenyatta says, “You can’t just give dogs jalapenos.” This project allows pets and their owners to each have their own nutritional food.
“We made all of this!” said Johnna when walking into the room, eyes wide and face beaming. The teens are packaging it quicker than they can move it. An entire classroom at the Holmgreen Center has been overrun with individually packaged
Through a partnership with Meals on Wheels, the team received a special pet food delivery route. The San Antonio Food Bank and Girl Scouts have also picked up boxes of food. The teens donated over 150 pounds to the Animal Defense League.
Creating meals isn’t the only part of the Team Up Challenge the team has been involved with. They’ve colored and distributed flyers requesting donations, designed banners promoting the online voting part of the challenge, and manned booths at a Silver Stars game and at the San Antonio Pet Expo and Mega Adoption Event. The team has completely taken on the responsibility of making their Team Up 4 Pets project a success.
In August, Noah, Tina, Kyle and Cody presented their project to the Silver & Black Give Back Foundation in hopes of winning $10,000 for The Arc of San Antonio. The group did a great job talking about their project to a group of about 20 community and corporate leaders.
The teens received special on-court recognition at the Silver Stars game on August 21st at the AT&T Center.