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Home / Articles / Features / Feature Articles /  My Pandemic Pivot
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Wednesday, December 2,2020

My Pandemic Pivot

By Susan Hargreaves Author-Activist-Educator of AnimalHeroKids.org  
Like so many, my previously active life came to a halt with the advent of COVID-19 restrictions. I write these words with the full realization that staying home with scrumptious vegan fare and a working internet would be an absolute luxury to so many facing housing and food instability and job insecurity.

I normally reach approximately 30,000 people with in-person Animal Hero Kids kindness education presentations every year. The necessary slowing down of my schedule resulted in more than putting on a few pandemic pounds, it actually grew an idea I will continue to focus on now and in the future with or without pandemics.

My pioneering pandemic pivot is to create global partnerships with legitimate animal sanctuaries to bring online Animal Hero Kids Kindness Education programs to schools using the curriculum resources I have created over my 41 years of teaching.

Dear reader, for you to realize the degree of my delight for the potential of these collaborative programs which combine “meeting” rescued farm animals and the heartwarming, youth empowering stories of animal rescue and lessons from the “Animal Hero Kids Voices for the Voiceless” book which I recently updated in a Volume 2 format, you would have to know a bit of my history.

Ever since I realized the way to prevent animal cruelty is to foster empathy in people at a young age, I have dreamed of opening a small sanctuary and education center near a major school district. When kids actually meet the fortunate individuals who were rescued from the animalbased agriculture industry, it is often a mind-changing event. When I can give youth an opportunity to realize everyone is an individual with their own personality, like their companion animals at home – like all species, including humans – it is a resounding empathy-fosterer of the highest degree.

Empathy is the core of humane education, which I call kindness education, since it is easier for the majority of the population to comprehend.

Grades three-six students in two school districts in Connecticut were the first group to benefit from collaboration between Animal Hero Kids, JP Farm Animal Sanctuary, local parents and the Climate Healers nonprofit. The head of the school district purchased e-book versions of “Animal Hero Kids Voices for the Voiceless” for the students to use individually on their home devices. Just this action alone is enough to make all the time spent writing this almost-300-page book worthwhile! I also mailed out actual copies of the book for each school library for free as part of our gift – an Animal Hero Kids book to every school program. See more details about the sponsorship program on animalherokids.org.

It is challenging to ensure my online programs remain as interactive and engaging as possible. My beloved rescue Lovey popped in to say hello, as did the companion animals from the students’ homes in the zoom class. Sharing the screen option allowed for high-resolution images to be shown to go along with the stories, classroom lessons and infographics. One of my favorite points was when I encouraged submissions for the “Veganza Animal Hero” song challenge. After I stated all types of music and instruments were welcome, we were all treated to twin sisters playing a trombone and trumpet march ing through their dining room as their rescued dog and cat watched from the sidelines. Remembering to instill fun and play in the day of students who may be tired of sitting in front of a computer all day, as so many schools return once again to online teaching, is vital. On the last day we each brought easily available and affordable vegan treats to enjoy together, taking turns to show what we were eating.

In my so-far-unsuccessful struggle to afford the cost of a sanctuary and education center for school field trips, I discovered the answer is right here at my fingertips, with the potential to reach a far larger audience than I could have with a local destination. So ends the tale of my epiphanic, pioneering pandemic pivot, or simply put, the creation of another effective Kindness To All initiative.

To support this program and others, or to see the heartwarming holiday gifts of the books “Veganza Animal Hero” or “Animal Hero Kids Voices for the Voiceless,” check out animalherokids.org.

 

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Also from Susan Hargreaves Author-Activist-Educator of AnimalHeroKids.org:

 
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