One of the key areas of SAFE's work is education, and SAFE endeavours to provide schools, teachers and students with relevant and factual information on human-animal relations.
Since 2004 SAFE has been committed to creating a strong and effective national education programme.
A key component of SAFE's education programme is Animals & Us.
Four Animals & Us textbooks specifically designed for use in New Zealand secondary schools have been published. These popular textbooks are sent to every secondary school free of charge.
KIDSFEST BEACH CLEAN-UP FOR ANIMALS
This year 29 pairs of helping hands for animals were out in force during Christchurch City Councils annual winter holiday programme - Kidsfest.
SAFE has been a long time participant in Kidsfest and this year decided to get out on the beaches and help animals by picking up rubbish.
Christchurch City Council Park Ranger Pieter Borcherds assisted the clean-up by providing gloves, bags and took away the rubbish at the end. Pieter also explained the types of hazards rubbish causes to wildlife and showed us which animals lived on the shoreline. We learned that some rubbish stays in the environment for years and years. A Styrofoam cup takes 50 years to break down and plastic bags and the rings from a six pack take up to 400 years!
We found a lot of Styrofoam and plastic on the beach and quite a few jandals. It was great to do something positive to help animals.
TIP: Use recycleable bags at the supermarket when shopping to reduce the amount of plastic in the environment. Take your own coffee cup to cafes rather than using takeaway cups.
KIDS PLAY WITH ANIMAL EMPATHY
Each year SAFE hosts an event called Why Animals Matter in the annual Christchurch City Council winter holiday programme called Kidsfest.
This year we decided to include some animal dress-up and role-play in the event. We wanted to educate the children about some topical animal issues in a fun and hands-on way.
The four main issues we wanted to educate the children about were battery hen cages, sow stalls, circus animals and laboratory animals. What better way to get children to empathise than to put them metaphorically into the shoes of the animals themselves?
With 20 children enrolled we divided them into four groups of five and gave them animal costumes to don. We had five hens, five pigs, five mice and rabbits and five bears, lions and an elephant!
Each of these groups of animals was given a scenario to act out. The battery hens were crammed together in a make-shift cage. The pigs were separated in crates made from chairs. The circus animals were perched on top of tables and the laboratory animals huddled under a table together.
At the end of the exercise each group reported back on what life for these animals would be like and how we could help them.
We had some very serious and passionate animal advocates who demanded freedom for the animals! Although it's fun to dress up, the children were all glad to take off their costumes at the end and return to the relative safety of being human.
Special thanks to SAFE volunteers Christopher, Pam and Michaela who helped on the day.
Nichola Kriek, Education officer
STUDENTS CRUSADE FOR ANIMALS
Inspired after attending SAFE's ‘Why Animals Matter' Kidsfest workshop Niva decided to crusade to help animals.
In August, Niva's school set her class an assignment that asked students to raise awareness and money for a charity. Niva immediately hatched a plan to help animals and set about creating some special blocks (based on Keith Haring designs) to raise money for SAFE.
With the help of her friend Olive, Niva organised a stall at the Arts Centre and together they made cupcakes and toffee apples to sell alongside the handcrafted painted blocks.
Niva's goal was to raise $200 and so they were extremely excited to count up a whopping total of $180. A tremendous effort!
SAFE education officer Nichola Kriek was highly impressed.
"The stall was held just two weeks after the earthquake in Christchurch. Their signs were held down with fallen bricks of all things! These two talented fundraising stars deserve a medal for all their work and determination. Niva and Olive - you're stars in our eyes! Thank you from SAFE and the animals," says Nichola.
Niva says she loves animals and looks after some ex-battery hens at home. You rock, Niva!
ANIMAL RIGHTS 101 AT KIDSFEST
The annual school holiday programme KidsFest run by the Christchurch City Council this year offered a ‘crash course' in animal rights for 10 to 13 year olds. The SAFE-run, 90-min education workshop filled up fast, much to the delight of SAFE's education officer Nichola Kriek. A very enthusiastic group of teenagers descended on SAFE with one thing in common - a love of animals.
During the session the group made posters and discussed the different ways humans exploit non-human animals. The group explored factory farming; animal experimentation; animals used in entertainment; bloodsports; and animal emotions.
"It was fun to work with a group of young people with such passion for animals," said Nichola. "One parent was so excited to see her daughter, who she said was usually very shy, interacting and presenting information with the rest of the group."
"The group went away well informed as to how to achieve a compassionate future for all animals," said Nichola.
HUMANE TEACHING IN SCHOOLS
SAFE education officer Nichola Kriek recently spoke at the South Pacific Humane Education Conference in Auckland. The conference, co-organised by WSPA and the RNZSPCA, was attended by representatives and delegates from animal welfare and rights organisations from throughout the South Pacific.
Nichola was the first speaker and kicked off the conference with a presentation on how to effectively deliver a high school education programme. The timing of the conference fortuitously coincided with the launch of the latest Animals & Us resource booklet Animal Rights, Human Values, Social Action.
"It was wonderful to be able to give those in attendance, particularly the humane educators, a sneak peak at SAFE's new resource," says Nichola. "Other speakers discussed the importance of strategic planning for humane education, evaluation of teaching programmes, e-learning and how to better encourage teacher involvement."
SAFE congratulates the organisers for putting together an excellent conference.