ANAA educa (to educate) was born in 2006 as a team of volunteers whose main purpose was to spread awareness about important animal welfare issues. At first, we thought that would be it, that our mission would end there. Little did we imagine that it would be them, the voiceless, who would start the change.
With every activity that we organized, at a primary or high school, we became more aware of the powerful bond that children and animals share. Some teachers approached us, once the activities were over, to let us know how surprised they were to find out new skills in their students. Recess didn’t matter anymore; they wanted us to stay. Students asked about different ways to help out, and they were particularly interested in learning more about our animals’ stories; the happy endings seemed to give them hope.
They taught us how to overcome prejudice and guilt. They encouraged us to ask questions and foster critical thinking. We were able to say: “during this time together, there is no such thing as good or bad. All emotions and opinions are legitimate and will have their place”. That was the beginning.
We educated ourselves. We learned to foster social skills and emotional intelligence. We provided high school students with an anti-bullying toolkit without even mentioning the word “bullying”. We warned them about the consequences of poor anger management skills; we discussed human rights and dignity, among other topics. With animals at the center of the conversation, they felt comfortable enough to express themselves, debate about what they thought was the main cause of the problem and share their will to change what they considered unfair.