October 23, 2014
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New programs designed to teach kids pet responsibilities

The Ocean State Animal Coalition (OSAC) has officially launched their new series of classroom presentations, “educateHUMANE!,” aimed at teaching students of all ages kindness and responsibility when it comes to animals.

Jane Greco Deming, education and outreach coordinator at Ocean State Animal Coalition, created a number of grade-specific programs to bring to schools throughout the state in an effort to offer a statewide humane education program.

“The underlying subject is kindness and character education,” said Deming.

She added that studies have shown if you teach children early about being kind and caring toward animals and the environment, they are more likely to maintain those behaviors through the rest of their lives.

“It’s important to reach them early,” said Deming.

And Deming is working to reach students K through 12 through these new programs. Kindergarteners and first-graders can take part in a storyboard-based presentation about what animals make good pets and the importance of being kind to animals through “Introduction to Pets.” The older elementary students can learn about the responsibilities that come with owning a pet, and what pet is ideal for certain lifestyles through “How To Pick A Pet.”

Deming explained that many families are animal lovers and simply want to bring an animal into their home, but prove to be unprepared for the responsibility and ultimately bring the animal to a shelter because they cannot keep it.

“Responsibility begins with the choice,” said Deming. “It is better to be responsible and do the right thing.”

Deming will even address the large animal shelter population issues facing Rhode Island and the country with students who are old enough to understand.

“We try to talk to kids about these issues,” said Deming.

Another of the new programs is “We Can Fix It!,” a presentation for fourth-graders to talk about the real reasons the shelters are overcrowded and how they can help. Deming explained a number of writing activities are provided so students can write letters or articles to send out to newspapers to encourage support of local shelters.

“It’s a great way of getting kids involved,” said Deming.

Other programs look at wildlife in Rhode Island, endangered species, a Scouting-specific program to assist with earning the pet patch, and a high school program on different careers with animals.

Any program addressing pet responsibility will also feature a visit from Deming’s son’s dog, a canine good citizen-certified golden-doodle named Phineas. Deming says he sits with her during the presentation, and then visits with each student for a petting session during questions and answers.

Deming explained that all programs also come with suggested follow-up activities for the teachers to take advantage of.

“When you leave the classroom, the kids are all pumped up about it, but the teacher doesn’t always have the resources to continue the discussion,” explained Deming.

One thing Deming hopes to always provide is a list of the local shelters in the area of the schools she visits. The classes can then organize fundraisers, food drives or pet toy drives to provide for area shelters.

According to OSAC’s website, all of the programs were designed to meet common core standards and provide quality character development lessons. Deming is also still designing more presentations and new programs will be added.

Deming began to deliver some of the presentations in October to see how they would go over; OSAC only recently launched the full program and the response has been great.

“Considering we just really got started, almost my whole month of February is booked,” said Deming.

Right now Deming is the only individual delivering presentations, but OSAC is looking for volunteers to become trained to become presenters.

“That way we can have programs going on all over the state at one time,” said Deming.

Presenters must be 21 years old or older, have a valid driver’s license and be a high school graduate. Interested persons can apply online or download the application and send it in to Jane Greco Deming, Education and Outreach Coordinator, 120 Haswill Street, Warwick, RI 02889.

Although it is not a prerequisite, if individuals have canine good citizen dogs that would make a good teaching assistant, OSAC is also looking to add more dogs to the program.

A full listing of “educateHUMANE!” programs and descriptions can be found at www.osac.org. For more information, feel free to contact Deming at education@osac.org or call 921-6599.


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