The Bermuda SPCA launched the pilot programme of Compassionate Class at West Pembroke’s primary 5 classes in February of this year.
A spokesperson said, “After months of research and development, the Bermuda SPCA launched the pilot programme of Compassionate Class to West Pembroke’s primary 5 classes in February of this year. We were so excited to finally see this idea become a reality.
“There have been some very upsetting reports of animal cruelty in the media; however, the reality of animal abuse and neglect in Bermuda that is not reported is equally upsetting.
“Does that mean that everyone is abusing animals? Absolutely not, however, we recognise that there is an underlying culture of tolerance towards animal cruelty-a ‘turn a blind eye’ so-to-speak. As an organisation whose aim is to prevent cruelty to animals, we know that one of the best ways to achieve this is through education.
“Compassionate Class programme was originally created by the RSPCA. With kind permission from them, we redeveloped this into a six-week programme that is designed specifically for Bermuda and our unique environment and culture.
“This interactive, discussion and enquiry-based programme allows children to consider what it means to be compassionate and understand the welfare needs of animals in Bermuda, in turn, helping them to develop emotional literacy. Students work collaboratively to develop empathy skills for their school lives, family, community and beyond.
“The Compassionate Class programme is an ambitious and innovative solution to encourage a more empathetic understanding of animals, thus preventing neglect and cruelty. During the six weeks, students are explicitly taught compassion and empathy through the lens of animal welfare.
“Each session per week is about an hour and a half and is led by a qualified primary school teacher. At the conclusion of the six weeks, the students present a learning project, visit the SPCA and have the opportunity to participate in an educational visit to a farm.
“The SPCA’s goal is to make this available and accessible for all Key Stage II classrooms island-wide in both public and private schools at no cost to them. We have totalled this to approximately $150,000 per year that the SPCA must fundraise in order to accomplish this mission.
“We know that there is a strong link between animal abuse, child abuse, and domestic violence. Building a safe environment where children can discuss and debate issues such as these that directly and indirectly affect them, in a non-confrontational way, is imperative.”
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