MERIDEN — The children of the Little Spartans program got to meet K9 Kilo and Officer Jason Degumbia as part of their career week.
The program, run through the Meriden YMCA at Maloney High School, involves children ages three to five years old, teacher Kristen Erdos said.
The class is participating in a career week, hearing from paramedics, firefighters, solar energy specialists and more. Degumbia stopped by the class on Thursday to demonstrate his job with K9 Kilo. Erdos and the other teachers, Heather Coitrone and Luz Diaz, prepared the students by reading them stories about police and asking questions.
“It gets them familiar with community helpers so they are not afraid,” Erdos said.
When Degumbia and Kilo entered the class room, the children all wanted to run up and pet her. Erdos and Coitrone kept them all seated while Degumbia explained his daily tasks with Kilo, including tracking lost people.
After lining up, the children were allowed to pet and interact with Kilo, laughing at how she kept her tennis ball with her at all times. Degumbia and the teachers brought the children out to the football field to show them how Kilo performs a track. One student was given Degumbias cell phone and told to run around the field and drop the phone. Once he was back with the class, Degumbia released Kilo, who followed the child’s path around until she found the phone and laid down, signaling to Degumbia that she found the object.
“The kids love the dogs,” Degumbia said.
Degumbia said it is important to familiarize the children with the officers and K9’s so when they see them outside of school, they feel comfortable with them. Degumbia has more demonstrations planned for children at Platt High School and Israel Putnam next month.