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Inspiring Compassion

Wednesday, October 5, 2016  
Posted by: Christina Mimms
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For educators trying to help young people understand the concepts of empathy and compassion, a hands-on experience may provide the best way to drive home those ideas. Tapping into local and regional resources aids the lesson at hand, but communicating ideas in a child-friendly manner also helps students to think about global problems such as hunger and poverty. At this year’s SAIS Annual Conference, educators from The Galloway School in Atlanta and Franklin Road Academy in Nashville, along with Heifer International and children’s book author John Claude Bemis, will discuss how they engaged their students in “Building Foundations for International Awareness and Action.”

Farm animals comprise some of the first lessons children enjoy in preschool. Activities such as singing “Old MacDonald,” making animal sounds, and visiting a local zoo help students to become comfortable with animals in general. As many children also have pets at home, their desire to take care of animals is almost innate. So when teachers start talking about people going hungry and how giving animals can help them, kids take notice.

“It’s a concept that is easy for children to embrace,” said Kate Herndon, community engagement manager with Heifer International. “Children can make a difference in the world.”

Schools have taken advantage of the resources at Heifer International, from a Read to Feed program to classroom curriculum to visiting one of their learning centers. Franklin Road Academy took students on an overnight trip to a Heifer Village. (Watch an informative video here.) Students learned more deeply about the issues but also participated in team-building activities. “A lot of schools use Heifer as a vehicle to teach kids about compassion or other issues,” Herndon said.

Learn more about this program and other ideas for global education at this session on Sunday, October 23 at 2 PM at the SAIS Annual Conference in Atlanta. 

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