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The love of children for animals is amazing. And vice versa! We see it all the time, in the way young visitors to the Sanctuary immediately connect with our rescues, reaching out to pat a furry head or offer a carrot or other treat.

But that connection isn’t just cute; it isn’t just heartwarming. It’s a hopeful glimpse into the future.

An often-shared social media meme features an anonymous quote that says, “Teaching children to be kinder to animals today is our only hope for a kinder world tomorrow.”

Meme or not, there’s no denying the truth in it. Humane educational sources describe a distinct connection – from being a child who is kind to animals and then growing into an adult who lives with a sense of compassion for and oneness with others and a connection to the natural world.

But it’s not just the luck of the draw that results in a child being respectful and loving toward animals. It can be taught and nurtured. And should be. That’s where humane education comes in.

More than just teaching compassion for animals, the aim in humane education is to create a culture of empathy and caring by tuning people into the fact that through our daily choices, we have the power to do the most good and least harm for ourselves, other people, animals and the Earth.

According to World Animal Net, “Humane education is a concept that encompasses all forms of education about social justice, citizenship, environmental issues, and the welfare of animals. It recognizes the interdependence of all living things.”

The organization explains that humane education helps people develop sensitivity to all life, appreciation of diversity and tolerance of differences; encourages children to live with greater respect for everyone; helps them develop a sense of responsibility for their surroundings; contributes to the development of children’s critical thinking skills; and empowers them to make decisions as responsible world citizens.

It’s never too late for a person to embrace a sense of compassion and accept that we’re all connected to each other and to nature. But humane education is especially important for children because they’re naturally enthusiastic, curious and receptive.

At UFS, we encourage children to connect with our rescues. We teach about their individual personalities — from the playfulness of our 1,000-pound “puppy", Elliot Steer, to Leona, the 450-pound pig who loves belly rubs. A visit to the Sanctuary is a wonderful experience that brings humane education to squawking, squealing, neighing, mooing, barking life!

~Guest Blogger, Margaret Battistelli Gardner. She answers the question "What’s your secret superpower? Keeping a soft heart in a hard world"


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