Ted Dreier grew up on a Kansas dairy farm. When he left he vowed he never wanted to see another cow - 40 years later he created Moozie, a life-size, talking cow who has become the main character in the Children's Kindness Network.
Moozie is a cow on a mission. Her mission is to spread the milk of human kindness by helping young children understand what being kind means and how to show kindness.
Moozie is no ordinary cow. She is a sweet, life-sized talking cow, a soft, cuddly puppet, and a character in several books that dishes out udderly sound advise.
Moozie came alive in 1997 in Ted Dreier’s Carlisle garage. She began as a simple project to “just build something” as an escape away from the corporate world that paid the bills.
“It was a pure fluke,” Dreier said. “I grew up on a dairy farm in Kansas. When I left I never wanted to see a cow again.”
Never say never.
That something he was building took on the shape of something familiar from his past – a cow, so Dreier decided, “It had to be more than a dairy cow.”
He added robotics to make the cow move and talk; then he made it portable enough to fit into a suitcase. During her creation, Dreier and Moozie bonded. When she was completed, the man and the cow became a twosome traveling to preschools entertaining young children.
The inspiration to introduce Moozie to young children came before she was completed after Dreier began visiting a 22-year old in jail for murder.
“If this young man had a Moozie in his life it may have made a difference in his life,” Dreier said. “Kids don’t just become a murder. They start out as a child throwing rocks at a cat, hurting animals.”
Just for fun, Dreier took Moozie to visit area preschool children where she “talked” about kindness.
With so much media attention and attention given in schools to bullying and violence among children, Dreier found his cow could reach young children while they were still impressionable.
It’s much less expensive to reach children when they are young and have minds like sponges, than when they are older – just like it’s less expensive to put a good foundation under a building than to constantly repair a poorly built one, he explained.
Since Moozie was introduced in preschools and kindergarten classes 14-years ago, research by students at Belmont University is bearing out the positive results testimonials teachers and parents are proclaiming.
“Social and emotional training with kids at a young age has a big effect on cognitive growth,” Dreier said.
Criminal acts by 18-year olds are reduced by 50 percent when kids are exposed to social/emotional values by age three. Such statistics have created an increasing interest in the curriculum and program.
The “Moozie project” took two years to develop. During that time, “While working with the cow, I began thinking like a cow,” Dreier said.
That thinking became three mini books filled with Cow Wisdom – “For Life’s Little Beefs,” “For Grabbling Life by the Horns,” and “For Loving to the ‘uddermost.’”
The little books are filled with insightful bits of wisdom like, “When you have been handed more than you can swallow, relax and chew your cud;“ “Take action. Expecting results just by talking is like expecting a cow to give milk by mooing;” and “Love is like a hoof print in the sand – it leaves its mark on the heart.”
Moozie was taking on a life of her own and, “We found the cow making a difference with kids,” Dreier said. “Children were listening.”
Ted Dreier grew up on a Kansas dairy farm. When he left he vowed he never wanted to see another cow - 40 years later he created Moozie, a life-size, talking cow who has become the main character in the Children's Kindness Network. Moozie is also a soft, cuddly puppet young children love to love.
By 1998 the affect Moozie was having led Dreier and his wife, Karen to reevaluate their lives.
“I stepped back from corporate public speaking – being nice to adults,” he said. “Now we’re doing the same thing, except we’re talking to children.”
The couple put their efforts into building a climate of kindness and the nonprofit 501(c)3 Children’s Kindness Network, a network dedicated to producing programs and materials on kindness to assist early childhood teachers and parents.
All proceeds made on Moozie are invested back into the project, which is now being integrated into education programs around the country and across the sea.
The Moozie concept is growing and expanding into the lives of more and more children.
Moozie puppets are popping over the United States. They have even made their way to Australia.
Moozie robotic cows currently reside in Franklin; Charlotte, NC; and Vallejo, CA. In Vallejo, Moozie has become one of the main attractions at a three-acre teaching farm where children visit farm animals in the barnyard and then go into the barn to listen to Moozie talk about kindness.
“Moozie is becoming a household name,” Dreier said.
On an annual basis, between 25,000-30,000 children are exposed to Moozie’s message of kindness with the number growing annually.
“Moozie talks about being kind to each other,” Dreier said.
According to Dreier, a big heart on the cow’s side shows children how a heart can be made bigger by giving and stronger by eating and exercise. She asks them what they would do in certain situations and helps them identify feelings by asking them how they feel in situations.
“As they identify their own feelings, they can better understand the feelings of others,” Dreier said. “These small children want to make Moozie happy.”