We are delighted to announce the next recipient of The Thinking Vegan’s grants for animal activism: ‘We Animals’ Humane Education Program, founded by Jo-Anne McArthur and supported by We Animals board members Anna Pippus, Karol Orzechowski, and Sandy Yuen.
‘We Animals’ Humane Education Project is a humane education presentation series delivered in classrooms, library, or conference settings for small or large groups of adults or youths. The program fosters awe, curiosity, and critical thinking about our relationships with animals. Based on the work of photojournalist Jo-Anne McArthur, and incorporating her photos, this project uniquely compels people to empathize with animals, their stories, and their struggles, and inspires them to be agents of positive change in their community by living the ethics of reverence, respect and responsibility for animals.
Why did we pick this? Because humane education is critical to instilling these values in society. While there are several established humane education programs, nationally and internationally, this one differs as it is neither focused entirely on young people, nor on training teachers. We all have the capacity to become more empathetic and to begin living our lives according to our values, and more often than not, We Animals Humane Ed is presented to an adult audience. One presentation is in fact specifically geared towards people already involved with or interested in animal rights issues, to expand our own education and capacity for seeing the bigger picture, and one is aimed at creative artists and writers, to inspire and motivate them to find their own inner activist.
We spoke to Jo-Anne about the program and its plans.
Over the coming years, I would like to see hundreds of We Animals Humane Education presentations being delivered in North America, through concerted outreach about the project, and accompanied by solid curriculum with which teachers can work. The programs will inspire schools and organizations to mix the message I’m imparting into more of their daily curriculum and programs. Teaching empathy is critical if we are to invigorate people to be caring and socially responsible. Through the development of pre-and post-program materials, the facilitators can continue the discussion about animals and compassion after the talk has been presented.
It wasn’t until I became a photographer in my 20s that I realized I could combine my skills and my empathy for animals to help make this world a better place for both humans and non-humans alike. I’ve now been travelling the world as an animal rights photographer for over a decade now and the journey so far has been exciting, difficult and inspiring. The We Animals project is an exhaustive archive of photographs about the often complex and difficult human/animal relationships of contemporary society. Over the years I have collected many incredible stories about animals around the world and the people who help them. From gorilla rescues in West Africa to defending whales in the frigid southern oceans, I’m now bringing these beautiful stories of hope to communities and schools who want to get inspired, motivated and involved.
Humane education is an opportunity to see our world in a positive way, and to empower people to be positive agents for change. Making connections in our own lives and behaviours allows people to create a better world for animals and our environment. Participants walk away with knowledge, awareness, and information-gathering skills so that they are able to choose to live with compassion and empathy. My vision is that We Animals Humane Ed programs will play a role in what shapes more empathic citizens. I’ve learned that we can all make a difference in the lives of others, and I’m eager to develop a more formal curriculum so this program can inspire and motivate people to make that difference.
Congratulations to ‘We Animals’ Humane Education Program for this recognition and grant. For more on the program please see www.humaneeducation.ca. For more of Jo-Anne’s work visit www.weanimals.org or on Facebook. The acclaimed documentary film The Ghosts in Our Machine featuring Jo-Anne is now available on DVD or online via most major platforms.
While we are no longer accepting applications for this grant, if you have an idea that will change the world for animals, you are welcome to apply directly through The Pollination Project.