"We Want Children to Learn Kindness." - Jena Ball, creator of CritterKin
CARY, N.C., Dec. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The CritterKin Project is launching a new initiative – "BE KIND" – to give children hands on experience being kind while making positive contributions to animal welfare in their communities. The "BE KIND," initiative connects children with animal stories, educational projects, and organizations dedicated to animal welfare.
"We want children to really understand what kindness means," said Jena Ball, creator of the CritterKin book series, "For that to happen, we can't just talk about it. Kids are practical, literal thinkers. They need to see, hear, touch and smell kindness to make it real. That's why animals are so important. "Be Kind" introduces kindness through story, then asks kids to put their natural love for animals to work in their communities."
"BE KIND" uses a three-part, story-driven process that engages both the hearts and minds of kids, then empowers them to make a positive difference in their communities:
Step 1 – Share a Story
The "Be Kind" experience begins with the story of Ricky Bobby, one of the eight canine characters in CritterKin's book Meet the Mutts. Ricky Bobby's character is based on the life of a real dog who was rescued from a puppy mill. Because of the neglect he suffered there, Ricky Bobby's back legs are paralyzed and he uses a two-wheeled cart to get around. His story is both a sobering reminder of the need for kindness and a celebration of what is possible when people work together to achieve a goal. Children inevitably ask great questions and want to know what they can do to help dogs like Ricky Bobby.
Step 2 – Make a Plan
Next, students and their teachers discuss and develop a "Be Kind" plan to help a local shelter or rescue organization. Specific ideas, from gathering food, blankets or holding events to raise awareness or money – are among the suggested activities. Additional activity plans are included in the Exploration Section of "Meet the Mutts" and on the "Be Kind" web page.
Step 3 – Create Ripples
Kids are encouraged to collaborate with parents, teachers, friends to document their activities - to produce photos, video and short written descriptions to share in their classrooms, on school websites and with the CritterKin team. CritterKin will also create a Pinterest board for groups that participate in "Be Kind" with a goal of sharing and celebrating their efforts and inspiring others to "be kind."
"The 'Be Kind' initiative is a wonderful way to get kids actively involved with helping animals both in and outside the classroom," says Marty Keltz, co-founder of the CritterKin Project and former president of Scholastic Productions, who brought The Magic School Bus, Goosebumps and other celebrated children's series to television. "This initiative speaks to my long-term goal of finding creative ways to bring project-based learning into classrooms and make learning fun and entertaining."
Critterkin also makes good on its pledge to Be Kind by supporting the work of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). Through story-driven content and resources to engage kids with animals, the "Be Kind" initiative complements IFAW's "Cats, Dogs & Us" Animal Action Education program.
IFAW's collaboration with CritterKin began with the popular eBook "Poco a Poco" which is based on the organization's work in Cozumel, Mexico. The book is available as a free download and has been read to children in classrooms and libraries, in person and via Skype visits with Jena Ball.
"This forward-thinking initiative helps children experience kindness on all levels – intellectually and emotionally through story, and as physical, real-world experiences by helping animals in their communities," said Nancy Barr, Program Director for IFAW's Animal Action Education. "It supports the IFAW vision of a 'world where animals are respected and protected' and guides children on that path. We are happy to be working with the Critterkin team and are grateful for Critterkin's support of our programs."
The original concept for CritterKin books and children's products is rooted in the wonderful relationships Jena Ball enjoyed with some very special pets she had as a child. The CritterKin vision and mission evolved through conversations with the team at Startled Cat (the company she co-founded), humane educators and organizations involved in animal protection. She and the Startled Cat team are now collaborating with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the NC Shelter Project "12 Acts of Kindness" Campaign, local SPCAs, humane educators, teachers and parents. http://critterkin.com/
Founded in 1969, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) saves individual animals, animal populations and habitats all over the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW provides hands-on assistance to animals in need, whether it's dogs and cats, wildlife and livestock, or rescuing animals in the wake of disasters. We also advocate saving populations from cruelty and depletion, such as our campaign to end commercial whaling and seal hunts. http://www.ifaw.org