SACRAMENTO, CA (November 18, 2008) –United Animal Nations (UAN) announced today the receipt of a $12,000 grant from the Kenneth A. Scott Charitable Trust, a KeyBank Trust, to begin an innovative research project to help determine whether children learn compassion and develop empathy by reading about animals.
The grant will fund research related to UAN’s Humane Education Ambassador Reader (HEAR) program, a first-of-its-kind community-based literacy program designed to help children develop compassion and empathy toward animals. The HEAR program uses trained volunteers, carefully selected books and discussion-based lesson plans that align with curriculum standards to explore the human-animal bond, promote critical thinking and foster empathy for animals.
Through this program, children in third through fifth grade learn information about animals to help them make choices about what it means to be humane, how to show kindness to animals, and why looking at and listening to animals matters. Launched in Sacramento, California in November 2007, the HEAR program quickly spread to Rockville, Maryland; Victoria, British Columbia; Washington, DC and Ar
With the Kenneth A. Scott Charitable Trust’s grant, UAN has hired Inverness Research, Inc. to conduct the HEAR program evaluation. Dr. Laura Stokes and her colleague Dawn Robles will assess the effects of discussion-based learning and stories in the HEAR program during the 2008-2009 school year.
Inverness Research, Inc. will conduct a naturalistic study of the HEAR program, examining its intentions, implementation and benefits. The research focus will be primarily on shifts in students’ perceptions of dogs and cats and the bond between people and dogs and cats as the story sessions progress. UAN will use the results of the evaluation to identify ways to effectively replicate the HEAR program in varied settings; and to establish how stories and discussion shift perspectives among children and, consequently, foster empathy. Ultimately, UAN would like to contribute new information on the value and impact of humane education in classrooms.
“Part of our mission at Inverness Research is to study projects where good people are doing their best to do good work,” said Dr. Stokes. “We are also a group of pet-friendly researchers, with our offices filled with dogs! We see UAN’s HEAR program as having real potential to help children develop compassion. We hope our evaluation study will help strengthen and possibly grow the program.”
Founded in 1987, United Animal Nations (UAN) focuses on bringing animals out of crisis and into care through a variety of programs, including emergency animal sheltering and disaster relief services, financial assistance for urgent veterinary care, and humane education.