Exciting new programs at the Gulf Coast Humane Society help the youth of Corpus Christi become more involved in the community.
By: Kaitlin Calk
Studies have shown that instilling compassion and empathy toward animals overflows into how students treat one another, increasing their respect and understanding of fellow students, reducing instances of bullying in school and encouraging them to take an active role now or in the future within our community.
It is because of this that the Gulf Coast Humane Society (GCHS) has launched the exciting new Humane Education Program. They welcome community youth into the shelter’s new Learning Lab on designated Saturdays, as well as reach out to local classrooms to increase students’ knowledge, compassion and empathy toward each other and all living animals.
These educational tours and presentations are led by Hollie Mitchell, who is a certified teacher and a member of the Association of Professional Humane Educators. Several fascinating Learning Labs have already taken place at GCHS such as the Military Working Dogs Lab in which the Naval Air Station of Corpus Christi talked to the kids and held an action-filled demonstration with Alpha the dog.
In the Learning Lab, which is free and open to the public, students also get to participate in a tour of the facility and hands-on learning and arts and crafts, as well as interact with friendly shelter dogs and much more. Private tours of the shelter are also available for Girl or Boy Scout Troops and any other youth program interested in learning about interacting with animals, animal shelters and careers in the animal field.
The Humane Education Program’s reach does not end at the shelter. Mitchell, along with a friendly dog from GCHS, also heads out to local classrooms to teach students about pet safety, proper care and treatment of animals, overpopulation and information on how our shelter operates, volunteer opportunities and service projects. She also recently led a book fair at Barnes & Noble complete with story times and an appearance from the Cat in the Hat.
This program also gives kids the opportunity to volunteer at GCHS in special ways outside of the shelter. Our Paw Partners Junior Volunteer program welcomes kids between the ages of 6 and 15 to participate by doing fundraisers for GCHS such as bake sales, food drives and neighborhood dog washes. They recently held a fundraiser in which the kids sold Jamba Juice gift cards; the kids had a ton of fun and got to learn more about responsibility and participating in the community. The funds raised by the Paw Partners Junior Volunteer program all goes toward the care of the animals at GCHS.
The GCHS Humane Education Program and Paw Partners Junior Volunteer Program have brought in and reached out to hundreds of kids from all over Corpus Christi. From the excitement on their faces during these classes, it is obvious that the youth in our community are eager to help and become involved in the welfare of the animals. Providing a program that introduces them to opportunities to become involved in our community at a young age will help ensure that they blossom into proactive community members as adults.
For more information about the Humane Education Program or how you can get your child or students involved, contact Hollie Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo courtesy of Humane Education Program