For our kick off lesson at Animal Haven for our Caring Kids program, over 30 kids of all ages came out to learn about animals and how we can help make the world a safer place for all species.
HEART instructors Kim Korona and Chris Parrucci talked to the kids about something called the golden rule. Haven’t heard of it? It means: to treat others the way you want to be treated.
The golden rule is such a great and popular phrase about how to live peacefully with others that it shows up worded differently in countless cultures and religions.
Judaism: What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor.
Buddhism: Treat others not in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.
Christianity: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Islam: Not one of your truly believes until you wish for others what you wish for yourself.
Jainism: One should treat all creatures in the world as one would like to be treated.
Hinduism: Do not do unto others that would cause pain if done to you.
When many people think of the golden rule, they think of how people treat other people. For example, it could mean that if you don’t like being bullied, you should refrain from bullying others. In this HEART lesson, we talked about how it can also be applied to human’s relationships with animals. If someone lives by the golden rule, he or she treats animals with kindness and compassion because that’s how he or she wants to be treated.
Caring Kids takes place at an animal shelter so dogs and cats are always at the front of the mind. It’s an obvious connection to think about how we treat the companion animals in our lives. One particularly insightful boy raised his hand and said that the golden rule should be extended to all animals, not just the animals we share our homes with. He was very concerned about the treatment of farm animals on factory farms. He brought up the interesting question: why do we treat some animals better than others?
We love teaching the golden rule because it’s such a simple idea, but one with huge potential consequences. When children (or adults) look at all their actions through that lens, they realize that it really is in their power to make the world a better place through their own personal actions. It’s a big world, and we may not be able to control a lot of it, but we can control how we behave toward others.
It wouldn’t be a Caring Kids session if the kids didn’t meet a few animals at the end of the lesson. First up was a delightful kitten who had been abandoned in front of Animal Haven with his brother. Next was Ash, a lovable 5-year-old Podengo Portugueso mix who came to Animal Haven from a municipal shelter in NJ.
One girl commented at the end that she and her family were looking for an animal to adopt and the two she just met were definitely on her mind!
We also had two new additions to the Caring Kids team. Well, not completely new. Elliot and Lilly spent the last two years as participants in the program. This year, they graduated to become junior volunteers! We just love it when kids want to get involved and volunteer their time to help teach others humane education. They know how deeply it impacted them and want to share their wealth of knowledge with others. Welcome, Elliot and Lili!
If you’d like to join the Caring Kids program, we meet every Friday from 4pm to 5pm at Animal Haven. Check out the website for details.