The OPCC, formerly called the Ocean Park Community Center of Santa Monica, graduated its first class of dogs — and trainers — Friday, May 20th, as part of a pilot program that teaches at-risk teenagers to care for and train homeless dogs.

The program is called “k9 connection.”

Teenagers from John Adams Middle School in Santa Monica learn empowerment, self-esteem, compassion and other life skills by training homeless dogs so that the dogs can be adopted.

The three-week course was created by Katherine Beattie and Patricia Sinclair and focuses on “developing an awareness of the risks of uncontrolled and impulsive behavior.” It teaches teenagers to “believe in positive reinforcement as an alternative to force and violence.”

Dogs are rescued or recruited from local animal shelters and pet adoption agencies.

The OPCC is a nonprofit organization for the homeless, battered women and at-risk youths.

Information, (310) 828-7010.

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