Archdiocese Local

The plaza worth barking about

From left, Santa Marta residents Koki Leasure and Kathy Warner enjoy their pets in the Puppy Plaza, a place where residents can gather to socialize and watch their pets play. PHOTO BY GINA ZWICKEL

by Steve Wujek
Special to The Leaven

OLATHE — Many Kansas Citians are familiar with the Country Club Plaza — an entertainment and pedestrian shopping district in the central core of Kansas City, Missouri. And while not of the grandeur and scale of the historic Plaza, there is now a special “plaza” at Santa Marta, a senior living community here.

The Puppy Plaza at Santa Marta is a place where residents can spend relaxing and fun moments with their loving canine friends.

“We’re a pet-friendly community because we know how special pets are to the daily lives of our residents. They’re part of our family,” said executive director Chet Surmaczewicz. “So we created a safe, clean playground for puppies and a place where our residents can gather to socialize and watch their pets at play.”

Weather permitting, Santa Marta coordinates a “Yappy Hour” that brings residents and dogs together to enjoy fun and engaging memorable moments.

Research has shown holistic wellness benefits for people who spend time with pets. One study published by the Frontiers in Psychology journal and the National Institutes of Health concluded that spending just 15 minutes with an animal increases positive hormonal changes in the brain and decreases stress.

“There are many physical, social and emotional benefits that are produced from gathering together with pets,” said Surmaczewicz. “It’s so amazing to witness the camaraderie, smiles and engagement with not only our residents, but also our canine friends. It’s one, big, happy playground for people and pets.”

About the author

The Leaven

The Leaven is the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

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