Dreier’s kindness foundation moo-ving right along
BRECKENRIDGE – “Uptight cows shut off their milk. Uptight people shut off their hearts.”
That’s a snippet of cow wisdom Ted Dreier, who attempts to teach children – and remind adults – to soften their hearts and make kindness a way of life through books and appearances featuring Moozie the cow.
Moozie grazed her way into Dreier’s mind one day in 1990, and she turned out to be a stubborn character – one that wouldn’t leave Dreier alone until he dedicated his life to her.
It all began when the thought, “cows are creative,” popped into his head on a flight to a creativity conference in New York. He couldn’t help but wonder how a cow would think about life situations.
“I can guarantee you, when I grew up on a dairy farm in Kansas, I didn’t think I’d ever want to see a cow in my life again,” the Breckenridge resident said.
But, Moozie persisted, so Dreier made a cow out of PVC pipe as a small garage project.
Then Moozie really began to take over his life.
Dreier had been working as a public speaker on customer service in the corporate world for a couple of decades and was working on a sequel to his book “Take Your Life Off Hold” (published by Fulcrum in 1987) when he decided to put life as he knew it on hold and focus on Moozie.
“I decided not to worry about anything else and reassess a year later,” he said. “I’ve never had an idea that didn’t go away, and this one doesn’t go away.”
A year later, Dreier introduced the life-size cow that moved its head and tail and talked about kindness to Head Start kids in Texas. Moozie reminded them to be kind to the earth, to animals, to each other and to themselves.
“The teachers and I couldn’t believe how the kids were paying attention,” he said. “I started thinking, “If kids are paying attention to this cow, maybe it will keep people from killing another person.'”
He continued to spread Moozie’s message by taking her to schools in 15 states and by publishing books. With help from Dreier, former Breckenridge resident Jane Morton wrote “Moozie’s Kind Adventure,” a children’s book. And Dreier wrote three compact gift books (“Moozie’s Cow Wisdom for Life’s Little Beefs,” “Cow Wisdom 2 for Grabbing Life by the Horns” and “Moozie’s Cow Wisdom for Loving to the “Uddermost'”) for adults.
“I just really believe that there’s more value in kindness than in violence,” Dreier said. “Every decision is made by a human being, and if there’s some strong kindness values that come through their lives, we could prevent (things like war). People like being kind. That’s our basic nature, so everything is directed to help that.”
Since creating mamma Moozie, Dreier has produced a herd of seven Moozies – with more to come – to distribute to teachers nationwide. Each Moozie moves her head, neck, tail, eyes, mouth and ears.
The second-generation Moozies are smaller, but they still have a big message. In fact, Dreier hopes to program the Moozies to read books to children to help literacy efforts. Currently, Ann Trechak, a teacher in Kansas, takes one of the herd to schools to teach kindness, and another Moozie lives at Loma Vista Farm in Vallejo, Calif., where 18,000 schoolchildren a year hear her talk. Next September, Dreier’s wife, Karen, will take a Moozie to schools in Ukraine, and they’re planning to take a Moozie to Japan in May.
“Our dream is that we work with young children, and they begin to understand the significance of kindness,” he said. “I mean, they see so much violence, it’s unbelievable. My vision is that Moozie will be as common a word in the household as Smokey Bear and that it will be tied in with kindness – that parents will tell me when their kids hear “Moozie wouldn’t like it if you did that’ they stop (misbehaving).
“I look at a child and think maybe from something that Moozie does or says, we’ll have fewer Columbine (shootings), maybe we’ll have people that will choose kindness over meanness to make a point. Kindness is the only thing that lives on.”
Dreier started the Children’s Kindness Network foundation to spread kindness throughout the world. All of the proceeds from Moozie go directly to the foundation to fund kindness centers with Moozie nationwide, Web site development, puppets and a preschool curriculum (written by Dr. Judy Herr, who has written almost 40 books on early childhood development).
Dreier also dreams of developing other farm characters to interact on television, writing a musical production, linking kindness centers so kids can interact by video and designing a high-tech 18-wheeler to attract kids to learning kindness.
Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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