By Emily Bryson

CHARLOTTE, NC (News Release) — The Humane Society of Charlotte (HSC) Youth Programs team volunteered with Freedom School Partners (FSP) on Friday, May 21 to assemble activity kits as part of the No More Bullying curriculum. Kits will be given to summer scholars as part of a collaboration between HSC’s Youth Programs and Freedom School Partners of Charlotte. The curriculum was purchased by HSC through a generous grant provided by Athletes for Animals.

The goal of HSC Youth Programs is to connect care and respect for animals to social and emotional learning skills that exemplify compassion and empathy for all living things.

The connection between animal abuse and bullying is well-studied and there is a strong correlation between childhood animal abuse and subsequent delinquent behaviors in adolescence and adulthood. Creating healthier and safer communities for our children starts early and interacting with animals helps children to cultivate empathy, compassion, and increase their understanding of personal responsibility from an early age.

“When kids interact with animals they develop stronger social and emotional skills,” says Shelley Lyttle, HSC Youth Programs Manager. “Animals teach us how to communicate on a deeper level and when kids get to work with animals, they get to practice those skills.”

Likewise, the Freedom School Partners’ summer literacy and enrichment program strives to help scholars build social and emotional skills by participating in activities that promote resilience, cooperation, conflict resolution, and self-control. By making a connection between social and emotional skill-building and animals, the two organizations are able to provide a hands-on learning experience for Charlotte children.

“Partnering with The Humane Society of Charlotte is a unique opportunity for our scholars to learn key socio-emotional skills that will carry them through life,” says Freedom School Partners CEO Glenda Bernhardt.

The Humane Society of Charlotte team kicked off the partnership on Friday, May 21 by volunteering to assemble kits for FSP scholars containing a learning activity associated with the No More Bullying curriculum. Team members cut and gathered rubber mats, fleece fabric strips, and instructions for scholars to create snuffle mats, a mentally stimulating toy for dogs. Snuffle mats provide dogs and cats the opportunity for enrichment. By allowing pets opportunities for enrichment, you allow them to be physically, emotionally, and mentally satisfied.