Friday April 1 is a City Wide Holiday as it’s the Phillies Opening Day. I remember my dad taking me to every opening day when I was a kid. It’s a thrill. I’ll be doing the tailgate parties even if it snows, as I have a “Situation” to photograph that afternoon. Today I went back to elementary school for an assembly with Philadelphia Phillies’ second baseman, Chase Utley and his wife Jennifer Utley (Utley Foundstion) who are joining forces with the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program to promote the proper care and treatment of animals in the heart of the community at the Anna B. Elementary School.
The kids of Anna B Pratt had a traumatic experience with dog fighting in their neighborhood, especially at the school. Every Monday morning the kids would tell their teachers of the horrific events that unfolded in the parking lot of their beloved school on the weekends. It seems that some of the people in the neighborhood would hold dog fighting matches there. Often the kids would have to walk over remnants of the losers from these fights and the cats that were used for food. the “dog owners” were using the outside stairwells as dog houses in between the days when there were no fights.
The administrators, kids and the community wanted to take the parking lot back, to make it a safe place for the kids. So they locked the gates to prevent cars from driving in and creating “a lit area with their car headlights to form these dog fighting rings,” and they had the police increase patrols on the weekends. The dog fights ended and now the school is doing a serious push so the kids will understand that dog fighting is not acceptable.
Prior to the paint day, the Utley Foundation and the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program invited students of Anna B. Pratt Elementary School to participate in poster, essay, and photo contests. The children were asked to express feelings and share personal stories about family pets or animals in their community. Winners from each contest were awarded a personal portrait on the “Kindness to Animals” themed mural.
Who needs Brad and Angelina when we have Chase and Jen to make a difference in the world. Principle Denise Young, Jen and Chase Utley, Deborah Forgione and Mural Arts Director Jane Golden.
Mural Arts Director Jane Golden discusses the mural that the kids are helping to create along with the Utley’s to go on a wall across the street from the school. She told the kids that the mural was very special to her too as she has two rescued pets a cat, Mazy, and a dog Ruby.
It’s great to see these two again. Jen told me she just got back from California yesterday, and was excited for the upcoming Phillies season. Chase said he’s working hard to get ready to hit the field.There was also a Q&A session with the SPCA. SO funny a little girl wanted to know how kittens were born. The women said they come from the same place as puppies and all of us: our mommies. So cute.
A youngster gives Jen roses and a huge, and I mean huge dog bone for their rescued pit bull Jack. I told the story of how Jen and Chase came to obtain Jack last year, but the most important part of the story is that Chase didn’t like Jack’s given name and renamed him after Jack in the Box. which is a fast food restaurant in California where the two are from.
Chase Utley and Jennifer Utley greets Maurice Parker who created the winning poster for today’s events.
I swear I overheard Jen say “But Chase, Jack will love this little muffin, and Jane has a dog and cat!”
I love this shot of Chase chatting with the kids with Jen looking on.Shardy Brown-Lamar and Brianna Burton help begin painting the “Kindness to Animals” mural created by artist Willis Humphrey. The mural begins on a paint-by-numbers system using parachute cloth. The final wall mural will be mounted on a wall and dedicated at its permanent location at 22nd and Dauphin Streets on June 7th. Other students were creating posters to promote animal adoption to be hung at the Pennsylvania SPCA. Mural artist Willis Humphrey, Jane Golden and the kids of Anna B Pratt
After Chase signed this kids arm, I heard him say I’m not going to wash it until I am old enough to get a tattoo – LOL (PS Jody Shaw, of Audubon NJ, I forgot to get Chase to sign a baseball for your charity, I know you are wondering that right now. I’ll see them again next week. I’m sure it won’t be a problem)