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Addo Elephant National Park

Campers Learn About Companion, Farm and Captive Animals!

by Kim Korona

We hope that you are enjoying your summer because everyone here at HEART sure has been having a blast. We have been busy bringing humane education summer programming to youth of all ages, inspiring them to make the world a better place for all life on earth.

One of the organizations we partnered with in July, Graham Windham Beacon, works with underserved youth and families to provide the necessary resources to help everyone build a strong foundation for life, a safe and loving family, and the tools needed to thrive in school and beyond.

We met with three groups of students, in grades 2-3 and 5-7, for a total of 8 sessions each. By the end of the program we were thrilled by how much the campers learned and how much their circles of compassion had grown.

We focused on building compassion and empathy for people, animals, and the environment with the kids through unique and interactive activities. Much of what we discussed had an especially big impact on them, demonstrating why this work is so crucial.

Many of the younger students, for example, didn’t even know what an animal adoption center was. By the end of the program they understood why shelters are so important, giving homeless animals a place to be cared for until they find their forever homes. They also thought that the reason cows produce milk was for humans, but they discovered that cows actually produce milk for their calves to have nourishment just like people produce milk for their children. Their hearts really opened up to farm animals when they learned about their natural behaviors and realized how much they love their families and friends, as well as all the things that farm animals and people have in common. In our “Web of Life” lesson they gained an appreciation for insects and fungi and included them in their drawings of a healthy ecosystem. In such a short period of time we really watched as their kindness for all living beings expanded.

For the older campers we incorporated activities that really encouraged them to think critically. The kids were so smart and they wanted to be challenged. For one activity they worked in small groups and were given pictures of captive animals. They had to consider why the animals were in captivity and what they thought their lives were like compared to the lives of animals in the wild. Several campers thought that the wild animals were in captivity for their own protection. They thought that people wanted to save them from hunters or from natural predators. As they dug deeper into the issues they began to think critically about why animals are taken from their natural habitats, and whether or not it is in the best interest of the animal. In many cases, they decided it was not for the animal’s benefit, but rather to use the individual as a source of entertainment and revenue.

To learn more about farm animals, their natural behaviors and their treatment on factory farms, campers had to complete a handout with questions. All the answers could be found in pictures and facts placed around the room. They had to use deductive reasoning skills to gather the necessary information. We were impressed by how much the campers were able to gather on their own and how concerned they were for the mistreatment of the farmed animals.

These are just a handful of examples of what the campers gained from their HEART summer program. It has been incredible to watch how much all the campers expanded their world view in such a short period of time. The campers were excited to learn during each session, which is inspiring since it is their summer vacation. All the campers left with a more humane outlook on the world, and with the tools to help solve big problems affecting people, animals and the environment.

Photo Credit: Brian Snelson

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