Evidence suggests that the Humane Education Program at GTHS, partnering with Elephant Thoughts, is off to a very successful start. Karen Marsh, our Humane Education Coordinator, began visiting grade 6-8 classrooms in the Collingwood area in November and is generating significant interest in the GTHS and the animals we serve.
Students are excited to learn about the shelter, how to interact more positively with their own pets, and even how to identify and respond to potential incidents of animal cruelty and/or neglect in the community.
We have even seen a number of students from the Junior Animal Welfare Certificate Program, alongside their families, newly adopt from the shelter. This has been very fortuitous and potentially marks the beginning of a new and warmhearted manner in which to reach the community with news about the GTHS.
Students learn about empathy and compassion for all living things, especially companion animals, and what it means to be a responsible pet owner. Karen is also forging relationships in the community by connecting with Emily Gibson, Peer Support Worker, and her lovely clients at Breaking Down Barriers, an Independent Living Resource Centre. Interested individuals can visit, volunteer and share in the emotional support companion animals can bring.
In collaboration with the SCDSB’s Outreach Program, Karen is also working with Kellie Casey and several students on an individual basis to further strengthen the bonds between shelter animals and at risk youth who benefit greatly by simply being in the same room as the animals. Some of our students are earning credits, community hours or some much needed interaction with the most loving and accepting souls on earth. It is also important to mention that this leg of the program could not continue to exist without the incredible support of our dedicated volunteers and full time staff who welcome all student visitors with enthusiasm and assistance. They’re never too busy to answer questions or lend a helping hand. The entire GTHS team is, above all else, a professional and caring group of individuals who have embraced our educational initiative without hesitation.
The ultimate goal of our Humane Education Program is to help students grow and develop into more empathetic, compassionate individuals using critical thinking skills. Over time, our aim is to transform our local community into a more humane place that chooses to adopt animals looking for a forever home and to care for those animals properly. As the new adoption evidence suggests, we are creating a more positive collective mindset that will translate to current and future generations. Indeed, this program has even resulted in a new acronym, AWE (Adoption With Education), as we continue to measure our results in the future.
In 2018, Karen will be working with a number of volunteers to expand the program into the three corners of the Georgian Triangle, offering March Break and Summer Camps, a Pet Sitters Course and many more exciting initiatives are in the works with our high level of success so far.