In November of 2021, a grade six teacher signed her class up for our in-class workshops. Michael was a student in her class. He was almost completely non-verbal and had been in therapy for over two years because he was so deeply depressed. Only in grade six, he was spending almost all of his time in his room, refusing to speak more than a few words, skipping school, refusing to engage in any activities in or out of school and not seeing his friends. His parents were terrified.
And then he met the GTHS.
During the first classroom session, he instantly began to communicate his love for animals. That night, he went home and told his parents that he wanted to join the Junior Volunteers. Michael had come out of his room, for the first time in weeks, and ate dinner at the table with his family, talking about the lesson he’d had that day about the history of pets. He couldn’t contain his excitement about joining the JVs. And by the next Tuesday, he was almost unrecognizable… talking, laughing, sharing, exploring and cuddling with the shelter animals. His engagement in the program had far-reaching effects. He began consistently attending school, he started talking and interacting with his peers, he was laughing, he was joining in and he returned to his old self at home. His classroom teacher was on cloud nine and his parents were overjoyed.
It’s stories like Michael’s that continue to drive the Lifelong Learning Program. Every time a young person engages in our programs at the Animal Centre or on our virtual platform, we make a difference in that child’s life. One might go so far to say that we come pretty close to saving lives. And not just the lives of animals.
Moving ahead into our future, there are so many exciting opportunities for expansion of this program.
The time has come to create a Regional Centre that will become a critical resource, not only helping animals but promoting compassion and kindness through a variety of programs and services available to the most at-risk members of our community.
We cannot achieve this dream without you.