If you know a Rhode Island student who loves animals and is looking for a safe, fun educational opportunity this summer, they might be interested in some "e;Animal Talk."e; "e;Animal Talk"e; is an online course for K-12 students that introduces
If you know a Rhode Island student who loves animals and is looking for a safe, fun educational opportunity this summer, they might be interested in some “Animal Talk.”
“Animal Talk” is an online course for K-12 students that introduces students to animal rescue organizations in Rhode Island, and the pets that they serve. The course will be taught virtually via Zoom, and is a part of the Rhode Island Department of Education’s SAIL (Summer Academy for Interactive Learning) initiative. SAIL was created in June to create educational opportunities for students who struggled during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring.
Karen Kalunian, a Warwick resident who is teaching the course, said that the class will give students the opportunity to learn about different animals and breeds, as well as animal welfare and rescue. She said that the class may discuss different topics depending on the ages of participants enrolled.
“This will be an interactive class where students could ask questions from experts,” Kalunian explained. “I’ll be going to different locations, with different animals each week.”
The first class, which begins on July 23, will feature Handsome Dan’s Rescue for Pit Bull Type Dogs in Cranston. Students will virtually meet adoptable pit bulls including Sesame, a dog with a rough start to life that Kalunian thinks students can relate to.
“Kids are going through tough times themselves with COVID, and Sesame is having a new beginning, so I thought it would be fun to see his story about resilience,” Kalunian said.
Other featured locations during the program include Rhode Island Parrot Rescue in Warwick, the Greico Community Cat Care Center in Johnson and the senior animal rescue Vintage Pet Rescue in Foster.
Kalunian runs a Facebook page also called “Animal Talk,” as well as providing profiles of adoptable animals to advertise in publications across the state, including the Warwick Beacon. She said that when she heard that SAIL was looking for course ideas, she called.
“When they were looking for ideas for classes, I felt that I could do something with animals and give the students something fun to do, because it’s not really a class schools would teach normally,” Kalunian said.
Kalunian is most looking forward to seeing students’ love for animals grow during the course.
“I want to see connecting children with animals,” Kalunian said. “I think it’s such a cool thing to watch. If you have ever seen a child meet a kitten or a puppy for the first time, they always seem to light up. With everything going on in this world, it’s nice to see things like that.”
The program begins on July 23 and ends on Aug. 18, with classes meeting over Zoom on Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. The course is considered supplemental, and cannot be taken in lieu of another course for credit. Public school students can register for this course and others for free at www.ride.ri.gov/summer.