Written by Michelle Kretzer
in Flushing might be blushing today. Public School (P.S.) 244 in that Queens
neighborhood in New York did something royally kind to animals by becoming the country's first all-vegetarian traditional
public school, so PETA's humane-education
division, TeachKind, is giving the school its Compassionate School
P.S. 244, going vegetarian
was an easy decision
because the school has incorporated healthy eating and living habits into its curricula for
years. Other schools in the district are considering adopting meat-free menus,
too, depending on the success of P.S. 244's program. And if the students' and
parents' reactions are any indication, cruelty-free meals are a hit. As one
9-year-old charmingly put it, "It's much more healthier. It helps to make
our bodies stronger."
P.S. 244 has inspired you to make a school in your area kinder, check out TeachKind's plethora of free
lesson plans and materials.
It was a tough decision, but PETA has
chosen the winners of our TeachKind
Teacher Appreciation Contest! These two educators best exemplify the TeachKind goals of creatively inspiring students to help animals and encouraging students
to use that inspiration to positively impact their schools and communities.
Here are the
Molly Lile Taylor organizes "Critter Club," a group of students who
meet at the Barren River Animal Welfare Association (BRAWA) to learn about
humane treatment of animals, responsible animal guardianship, the animal-homelessness crisis, careers that involve working with animals, and many other important topics. The
children are a huge asset to the animal shelter, collecting donations, helping
with fundraisers, making toys for the animals, and helping to socialize them. Many
"Critter Clubbers" choose to have their birthday parties at the
shelter and collect items that the animals need instead of receiving gifts.
Critter Club was
so successful that Taylor extended it into the summer with Camp BRAWA. "As
educators, we enjoy watching this interaction and feel a sense of
accomplishment knowing we helped facilitate the relationships between the kids
and the animals," she says. "Our goal for 'Critter Club' is to foster
compassion in the children so that they can grow up to be responsible,
teaches Spanish with a side of animal rights. She has included humane-education
lessons in her curricula every year since beginning her career and says she has
seen a profound difference in the students' lives. This year's lessons centered
on vegetarianism and greyhound racing. The class sampled vegan foods and used PETA's vegetarian/vegan
starter kit to learn how to choose plant-based foods at the supermarket. And after the
class learned about the cruelty behind greyhound racing, which is part of the TeachKind lesson plans, it welcomed a rescued former racer to its classroom.
The kids left
Vigo's class determined to educate others about cruelty-free eating choices and
about why they should not patronize greyhound races. Other educators are
starting to notice the effects that the humane-education classes have had on
Vigo's students. She says, "As educators, it is our job to inspire young
people and to instill values and compassion in them. If we want a better world,
we must start by teaching kids about kindness, respect, and empathy for all."
Congratulations to Molly Lile Taylor and
Teachers, administrators, and parents
who home-school can join
the TeachKind Network to receive free resources to help them implement their own humane-education
Written by PETA
PETA is helping to halt youth mobs in Philadelphia—with knowledge. Worried that the teen violence in the City of Brotherly Love could escalate to the level of England's riots, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter responded to the reports of teens robbing and assaulting people by instituting an early curfew for anyone under 18.
But PETA has a solution that may be more readily accepted by parents and teens. We sent Just Choices humane-education DVDs to Dr. Arlene Ackerman, superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia. Just Choices explains social justice movements and how people's everyday choices can affect others. It also helps teachers educate students about the most important lesson of all—being kind.
To get Just Choices or other TeachKind materials for your school, visit TeachKind.org.
Written by Michelle Sherrow
Here's a story that could melt even a snowman's heart. Fourth-grade students in teacher Chris Maxwell's class at Mills Park Elementary School in Cary, North Carolina, have raised more than $300 to help dogs who are trapped at the end of a chain with no shelter from freezing temperatures, snow, and sleet. The kids are donating the money to PETA's national "Change for Chained Dogs" program, which provides dogs who are chained up like old bicycles with warm, sturdy doghouses. Sadly, these doghouses are often the first "homes" that these animals have ever known. To thank the kids for their compassion, TeachKind—PETA's humane-education division—has given the students and the school its Compassionate School Award.
Check out a couple of the happy dogs with their new doghouses:
Inspired by these kids' kindness? Why not sponsor a doghouse in behalf of a cold, lonely dog?
Written by Lindsay Pollard-Post
You think "coon on a log" is bad? Allow me to introduce you to the delightful sport of "fox penning," in which dogs are set loose on a fox or coyote confined to a pen and allowed to tear the animal to shreds.
The good news is that this despicable pastime is now banned in Florida, thanks to the efforts of PETA members and other concerned citizens, including several youngsters who were among 80 people who testified on the issue at a Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting.
"I am an athlete, a swimmer, and a basketball player," stated one 10-year-old girl. "If fox penning is a sport, I would be ashamed to call myself an athlete."
Meeting attendee Susan Hargreaves reports that the "[c]ommissioners were captivated by the children's eloquence and courage as they advocated on behalf of the foxes and coyotes who are chased by packs of dogs with no hope of escape and a certain, bloody death."
The commissioners voted to permanently prohibit fox penning earlier this week.
I hope this inspires everyone to speak up for animals. If a 10-year-old can do it, so can those of us who are all growed up! You can get started by contacting the wildlife departments in states where fox penning is still legal.
Written by Alisa Mullins
We've never understood why any child needs to poke around inside an amphibian, but holy "Jumping Frogs of Calaveras County": iTunes now offers a virtual frog dissection iPad app! In honor of this sophisticated and humane alternative to dissection, PETA is presenting its creator, Emantras Interactive Technologies, with a Mark Twain Ethical Science Award.
Every year, millions of frogs, cats, pigs, and other animals suffer and are killed for dissection even though modern non-animal teaching methods such as interactive computer programs are educationally superior, more economical, and safer (do you really want your kid handling formaldehyde?). Now, thanks to Emantras' new app—which can be downloaded on iTunes for $4.99—students who are lucky enough to own iPads can use touch-enabled virtual dissection tools to explore and manipulate a frog's organs in 3D.
PETA's Mark Twain Ethical Science Award recognizes its namesake's staunch opposition to the abuse of animals in experiments. Hailed as America's first animal advocate, Twain said of animal experimentation, "The pains which it inflicts upon unconsenting animals is the basis of my enmity towards it, and it is to me sufficient justification of the enmity without looking further."
Teaching students anatomy without harming animals? We think Mark Twain would approve. And thanks to the award, media outlets are abuzz about this new leap toward keeping classrooms cruelty-free. So how about channeling your inner Twain and taking action to cut out dissection? While you're doing that, I'm going to light up my corn-cob pipe and while away the afternoon dreaming about how much iWant an iPad.
Written by Amy Skylark Elizabeth
Eden II, a Staten Island school for autistic children, recently lost some electronics and rubber duckies to burglars, but it's the theft of Star, the school's hamster, that has students crying and losing sleep.
In an effort to nix any notion about getting a "replacement" for Star, our TeachKind reps have reached out to Eden II officials, offering to replace the classroom hamster with Webkinz, a humane alternative to live classroom animals that combines toys and technology to allow kids to care for adopted friends online. With Webkinz, kids learn responsibility and kindness without subjecting an animal to possible neglect or abuse.
We are also providing the school with information about pet shop cruelty, because most of the exotic animals in pet shops come from filthy warehouses such as U.S. Global Exotics (USGE), where an undercover PETA investigation revealed shocking neglect and cruelty. Hamsters, prairie dogs, lizards, turtles, frogs, and hedgehogs were kept for weeks packed into cattle-watering troughs, cardboard boxes, and plastic bottles, and countless animals were deprived of food, water, light, and ventilation. There was no veterinary care for countless sick and injured animals, who instead were simply left in freezers to die or carelessly tossed into a waste bin. Fortunately, PETA's investigation resulted in the permanent removal of more than 26,000 mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and arachnids from USGE—but our fight against this kind of common cruelty continues.
Will Eden II officials accept our offer and decide to ban live animals from their classrooms? I sure hope so. After all, I believe that Star would never wish his frightening fate on another helpless animal.
Written by Karin Bennett
Thanks to all the bad habits immigrating from north of the border, the childhood obesity epidemic in Mexico is growing quickly, and school lunches loaded with fattening meat and dairy products are largely to blame. Luckily, we know just how to help Mexican schools tackle this hefty issue: Meat-Free Mondays.
We sent a letter to Mexico's secretary of education, Alonso Lujambio Irazábal, asking that the government adopt Meat-Free Mondays in all public schools. Meat-eaters are nine times more likely to be obese than vegetarians are, and researchers have found that children as young as 3 years old can already begin to show signs of coronary heart disease. Vegan meals don't have any heart-clogging cholesterol and are some of the healthiest options for any cafeteria lunch line.
While we wait to hear back from Mexican officials, it's easy to get your local schools to adopt Meat-Free Mondays. To participate, schools simply need to commit to cutting out meat once a week. In return for their commitment, we'll honor any schools that sign up with a launch party, free materials, and a certificate.
Fit students, an exciting party, and delicious, healthy food—what more could a school ask for?
Written by Liz Graffeo
Sometimes all you need is a sign—and with our new McCruelty Sign Generator, you can create one for McDonald's McCruelty. Design your own slogan and expose the painful slaughter behind the "billions and billions" of chickens served. Check out a few signs that the bloggers have already generated:
We can't wait to see your signs!
Written by Logan Scherer
Every year, PETA's offices are flooded with calls about dogs who are relegated to the backyard by guardians who refuse to let them inside. These dogs are left outside in freezing temperatures, often with nothing more than a plastic barrel or a wooden lean-to as shelter from the ice, sleet, and snow. For the last two years, a third-grade class at Samuel Staples Elementary School in Easton, Connecticut, has worked hard to raise funds for PETA's doghouse program, which provides warm homes for lonely backyard dogs. The students donate their leftover lunch money, parts of their allowance—even the quarters that they find in couch cushions. With all their combined change, the students were able to raise more than $800 for dogs last year!
It was such a great idea that TeachKind—PETA's humane-education program, which I coordinate—is launching a brand-new school fundraising program called Change for Chained Dogs.
This program makes it easy for schools to get students active and empower them to make a difference for animals. Every school that signs up gets an introductory letter, stickers, leaflets, and a sign to print out and tape to collection cans. So far, more than 500 schools—including Samuel Staples—have signed up for the fundraiser. It's a great opportunity for students, families, and communities to work together to help dogs in need.
We hope that even more schools will get involved in this exciting program, so if you have kids or know any educators, encourage them to sign up their school to host a Change for Chained Dogs fundraiser! And if you want to make a contribution yourself but don't know any kids, don't worry—you can always donate directly to PETA's doghouse program to help give lonely dogs a warm home this winter.
Written by Liz Graffeo
you have a general question for PETA and would like a response, please e-mail Info@peta.org. If you need to report cruelty to
an animal, please click
here. If you are reporting an animal in imminent danger and know where to find the
animal and if the abuse is taking place right now, please call your local
police department. If the police are unresponsive, please call PETA
immediately at 757-622-7382 and press 2.
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.