People & Society |

Animal ethics for kids: humane education project wins two grants

A small not-for-profit project run by volunteer teachers, activists and writers from all over the country has taken out two grant awards to expand their work in the new year.

ThinkKind, a humane education website that publishes free curriculum-linked resources to help teachers introduce young students to animal ethics, has won a Voiceless Grant Award and an Impact Grant from the Pollination Project.

The annual Voiceless Grants Program provides financial support for projects aimed at reducing the suffering of animals in industrialised farms and the commercial kangaroo industry. Other recipients this year included RSPCA Queensland, Monash University, University of Technology Sydney and the Animal Justice Party.

The Pollination Project, a United States foundation that provides $1,000 startup grants to projects around the world each day, selected only 16 grantees this year who have shown significant progress with their work. ThinkKind was the only Australian project selected, after using its small seeding grant to develop a free quarterly magazine and Kindness Club Kit for students aged 8 to 14.

ThinkKind founder and director Valerie Wangnet says it is honour to receive recognition and support both domestically and globally for the initiative she started in April 2013.

“Australians have become more aware of animal suffering, particularly in regards to intensive farming, cosmetic testing and puppy mills,” says the 25-year-old, who works fulltime in educational publishing.

“We have an important responsibility to acknowledge and reduce the suffering and destruction we cause to other species. Education is a vital step towards empowering young people to make positive changes in the world through informed actions and decisions."

Humane education, the teaching of compassion and respect towards animals, the environment, and other people, has become a successful movement in the United States, with educators able to complete graduate programs, including master’s and doctorate degrees in humane education.

As a relatively new concept in Australia, ThinkKind focuses on expanding the movement domestically while developing resources which meet pre-existing outcomes of the National Curriculum, allowing teachers to incorporate humane education into their classrooms with ease.

“The legacy we're passing onto the next generation is not a great one," says Wangnet. "Compassion and consideration for all living beings is a powerful first step towards tackling the many great challenges our children will face in the future.”

The two grants will go towards the development of ThinkKind’s quarterly magazine, Kind Education, as well as their Kindness Club Kit to help students start a Kindness Club in school.

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