Charleston Animal Society with 2nd grade Team Unidogs
Upon arrival at the Charleston Animal Society, students are given a run down of Holy City Children and Pelican Pride, learning why we’re called Holy City Children and why the Pelican is the symbol of our organization. They also learn how their team got its name – Team Unidog (a combination of two school mascots Unicorn and the Bulldog)
Next, Children learn the Unidog cheer:
Executive director, Craig Morris, shouts, “UNIDOG!”
And the whole team responds with, “ONE FOR ALL!”
This cheer continues at various points throughout the day as children from opposite ends of town come together to learn about each other and animals.
learning about animals
Now it’s time for Director of Charleston Animal Society, De Deltorio, to take over. She runs the educational aspect of the field trip with the elegance of an artist and the accuracy of a scientist, introducing dogs to the children in a way that puts them at ease and helps them understand that different species have different communication styles. She shares the basics on how to interact with dogs, and children eagerly take the opportunity to pet the affectionate pups. The magic is beginning.
Next, children gather in the education room to learn more. De and her enthusiastic team answer questions like:
- How do you give animals a “kiss” by using just your hand?
- How do you give a dog the “cold shoulder” if you aren’t interested?
Students are briefed on the do’s and don’ts of animal communication (both verbally and through body language). Children also learn about the Animal Society, their mission, and why it’s so important to take good care of animals. It’s often stated that treating animals well is an indication of a successful society.
As Ghandi says,
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
connecting through helping
After learning the basics of communication, the Unidogs are split into 4 different groups to work alongside students from the other school. Stations are setup to engage this rather large crowd of young inquiring minds.
Station 1: The adoption floor
Students meet “Nutmeg” one of the newest foster animals. They also learn about the adoption process, why it’s helpful, and how it works.
Station 2: Petting station.
Children sit in a circle with a blanket over their legs to give love to some of the CAS favorite animals, including rabbits, hamsters, and a guinea pig. They learn about the animals, their diet, and habits while showing gentleness, kindness, and empathy toward their soft little friends.
Station 3: Building litter boxes.
Kids work together to build and enhance litter boxes, learning that there is room to connect even while working together on less glamorous tasks! Children get to know each other as they build and decorate, bonding over their favorite animals, colors, and types of artwork.
Station 4: Making treat bags.
De leads students in making doggie treats. She teaches kids about how strong a dog’s sense of smell is, and how smells can trigger specific behavior in animals, especially canines.
After the stations are cleared, children come together for one final activity – A get to know you game with a new partner from the other school. Children write each others’ names and ask questions. They are beginning to see that we all have something in common, and we all have differences worth celebrating. On top of that, we all have something to contribute, no matter what side of town we’re from.
New connections are forged. When the HCC bus is loaded, children sit next to their new friend from the other class, chatting all the way to Ladson where half of the students are dropped off. But not before a few more Unidog cheers, “nice to meet you”, and “see you next time!”
To be continued.