From CKN Founder, Ted Dreier:
There are many things that influence our lives, which ultimately shape our journey. In my case, I grew up on a farm, with cows, pigs, chickens, and ducks. Cows were the biggest challenge because we had to milk them twice a day, every day of the week ... at 5 AM and 5 PM. As a teenager, I would have been happy to never see a cow again. But with my father being a 3rd generation dairyman, it only seemed natural I was destined for the same. However because of finances and health, Dad decided to sell the farm. I went into business for myself as a public speaker giving seminars on customer relations.
Moozie began as a prop for these seminars. I spent years puttering around in the garage, building a full sized Holstein cow made out of aluminum, drawer runners and wood, and covered with black cloth with big patches of white. This cow looked amazingly real, and to make it even more real, I added robotics and made it so it could talk.
Moozie the robotic cow could collapse into a suitcase, and folks marveled as they saw this full sized Holstein cow unfold out of a case. This brought a lot of laughs, and I began working on comedy routines with Moozie. I started taking improv classes, worked on routines such as playing my trombone with my foot as I milked Moozie.
This emphasis on comedy all changed In 1998. I was contacted by a Head Start teacher in Denton, Texas who asked if I would bring Moozie to her school as they were going to be studying farming. I agreed. Rather than Moozie just being a farm animal, I worked up a program with the theme of “spreading the milk of human kindness.” Moozie captured the undivided attention of the kids. These normally wiggly kids, group after group, sat on the hard cement cafeteria floor and were glued to Moozie’s message of kindness. It was hard to believe ... the teachers were amazed, we were amazed. In days that followed, we heard from teachers telling how they were hearing Moozie’s name on the playground with kids confronting others who were not kind, saying “Moozie doesn’t like it when you act like that”. Giving this program at that Head Start was a real eye opener.
It was a turning point in Moozie’s life and mine. Even though I had spent months working up a comedy routine for Moozie, I decided to step back from the corporate world as a public speaker and dedicate this chapter of my life, at age 60, to working with kids, with a focus of reducing violence and bullying.
For 27 years, I had focused on giving customer relations seminars, and now I was going to be focused on teaching children—rather than corporate leaders—to be kind. This decision ultimately led to the development of the Children’s Kindness Network, a nonprofit 501(c)(3). Since that decision back in 1998, a lot has happened. There are now Moozie puppets, Moozie costumes, Moozie books, Moozie teaching materials, and orchestral music wrapped around kindness narration which has been played by orchestras around the US for their children’s concerts.
More importantly, there are a host of others who volunteer their time for the mission of CKN. Today, we have an eye on the future, with Moozie becoming an icon of kindness.
Like a flower, kindness blooms where planted.