Kids Help Shelter Animals Art Project – Education & Fundraising

BE PART OF THE SOLUTION:  implement this totally inspiring project in the Grass Valley/Nevada City area in California.

 Classes in Northern California

Art Camp with Denise Wey

What you will find described/reported on this page is brilliant and DOABLE. Please read and watch all of this on this page  if you have children or care for animals.

I love this totally inspiring project. It involves children, art and helping shelter dogs….and here is a summary of how it goes:

An inspired art  teacher in school or artist offering summer art camps works together with a shelter. The children learn about the homeless dogs that noone wanted or that got lost and now have nowhere to go . They will understand and be grateful for the shelter, because at least the homeless dogs have something to eat and a warm place while they are waiting for a family. They will understand that it costs money to buy food….and they will get an experience that they can help, they can make a difference.  Photographs are taken of the dogs and the children paint or draw pictures of the dogs they feel drawn to. This can be quite an involved art teaching project in terms of materials and how to accomplish this.

Shelter Dog - 2nd grade

During the entire time, while having fun, there is automatically and without having to say it a constant awareness in the children of those animals behind bars. They will feel for them, wanting to help – and this they will, because at the end of the project, the images will be auctioned for the benefit of those dogs in the shelter. Parents are often the ones to buy their children’s artwork, but this can be advertized in the papers as well as online.

This is a win-win for everyone. It teaches and gives an experience of empathy and compassion, it allows children to be creative, it raises awareness in the children as well as  their parents to the plight of shelter animals, it raises money for the shelter and can get potentially an entire community or town involved or motivated. This project can be done in a school, it can be a summer camp offered by local artists everywhere who also have a heart for animals. Local photographers and stores may well be interested in supporting the children as well as the shelter animals. And it works!!!! – as you can tell from the success story recounted in my e-interview with and art teacher who did just such a project. And who knows, one of the dogs may just get adopted as a result of this too.

The project, “School Kids Help Shelter Animals Art Project“, as I named it here,  is something that can be done today in a school near you.
It is an AMAZINGLY doable thing in schools or other, private, art classes – for all around raising awareness on the subject of animals in shelters, cooperation, raising funds for shelter animals & empowering children – and all in doing ART.

I was very inspired by this project, which can be incorporated into any school and it WILL change how our children feel and are able to be empathic, and it will change the plight of animals for the better.

The shelter and animal rescue situation seems like a revolving door of never ending cruelty and neglect committed by, sometimes very young,  adults and untold suffering of many animals. What can be done often seems like a “drop onto a hot stone”, as a German proverb goes. I do feel though that even as the anger flares, heartache has tears streaming own your face and the seeming hopelessness creeps in at the extent of the situation, that at some point the children who now as adolescents and adults do these cruel things to animals, never did get what they needed as young children –  to grow up with a sense of worth and love, never did get taught empathy, tools for self regulation and healthy empowerment and meaningful relationships and a vision for their life compatible with compassion and heartfelt joy.

There is much possible with new and stricter laws to send a message about non tolerance of animal cruelty, there may be unchangeable genetic predispositions which no schooling can influence – in the long run however, we also need to pay attention to the children who are in our care in schools and Kindergartens for 12 and more years – all day long. Much can be done here – and it has to be here we urgently need to look for deeper and lasting change to happen. It might take a while – check this out, it works:
I corresponded with Siobhan Nolan, the teacher who did this with her art class to benefit shelter animals with  kids in a school in Baltimore,  MD, and got some answers to some questions I had about doing this in local schools.

Practical information for “Kids Help Shelter Animals Art Project” – Education & Fundraising

Here is the e-mail interview, with my questions for Siobhan, who did this in school with 2nd graders in Baltimore:

….I am still interested to hear more about the project, children-
> lend-a-hand-to-homeless-pets, specifically:
Q > – what was your motive for doing this project?

Our school is an expeditionary learning school, and we do our very best to connect the skills that kids need to learn with real world applications. A lot of our work naturally turns into advocacy work for organizations or connections/service to our community.
My motivation came from the classroom teachers.  I am an art teacher and I see the kids once every three days.  In their regular classroom and in their math classroom they began the relationship with BARCS (the shelter).  The kids started  a penny collection and used the penny collection to teach the kids about decimals and adding decimals. The kids collected around $400.
Both of my dogs are rescues, not from this particular shelter, but rescues nonetheless and the second grade team have had a relationship with the shelter previously.
I also used the book, Uncle Andy’s Cats by James Warhola to get the kids excited and invested.  Its about Andy Warhol the artist, a true story, and really cute.  He has too many cats in the story, so he paints them, makes a book – makes them famous, and then everyone wants to adopt them. So we decided to do the same thing for BARCS.

Q > – how big a class did you take to the shelter?

The second grade team took the kids to the shelter initially.  I did not attend.  It was more of a Friday fun activity, let’s walk to the shelter so we can see who we’re helping.  I don’t think BARCS took the kids back to see the dogs and cats though.  However, BARCS did bring some rescue dogs to the second grade classrooms AND to a school wide meeting.  A school-wide meeting is just that – a meeting where the entire school gets together – kids and staff.  The kids shared what BARCS was about and how we can help them.  This was ALL before I even had the idea to do the pet portraits.
When I took the kids to photograph the dogs and cats, I only took four kids.  Honestly, the photographs did not turn out well because the kids were SO excited they moved around a WHOLE lot.

Q > – what was the parent involvement?

Not really.  Parents came to support their kids at the silent auction, but other than that nothing.  I’m also not good at asking parents for help either.

Q > – how was the project received by the: children, parents, shelter employees and managers?

Everyone was in love with the idea and the final result.  The kids were proud, parents in awe of their kids work and the shelter workers were inspired.  I worked directly with the BARCS director to make the silent auction happen as well as scheduling the shelter visit for photographs, etc.

Q > – what impact did you observe in all 3 (children, parents, shelter employees) ?

Kids became advocates for the shelter.  They took ownership of their artwork, the cause, and getting the word out about BARCS.

Q > – how did the auction go and did you end up making a donation to the shelter?

The auction was well attended… about 50 people attended – kids, families, teachers, BARCS volunteers and community.  We sold all 42 paintings and raised $1000.

Q > – preparation time, legalities to consider?

The artwork took a long time to make from start to finish.  We did everything in depth.  The kids investigated watercolors.  They investigated how oil pastels work with watercolors.  They investigated the best way to show pet fur with texture and length… We learned how to trace shapes with a high quality, how to transfer the drawing, and how to choose a background color.   But, you could probably get it done in ten sessions (hours) from start to finish if you needed to.  You also don’t have to do the artwork the way we did.

Q > – did any adverse incidences happen?

Nope, not that I can think of.

Q > – how do you feel about this project now and will you do it again next year. if not, why?

Yup, we’re going to do it again next year.  I’m thinking about connecting it with an artist study of Andy Warhol.

Q > – and anything really you feel is important to consider in trying to make something like this happen?

Investment and support from all parties, kids teachers and shelter.

Again, I am not a teacher, so I would likely face a few other hurdles to get something like that going. My questions also may reflect my general ignorance of what it may take to do something like this.

> I think though, given the plight of animals in this country and the observed cruelty done by humans that it is through raising awareness and working with children we may have an impact in the long run.
> This is a project that brings together various elements and benefits worthy of repeating elsewhere….at least this is my impression.

I hope this helps and any other questions I can answer please ask…

Thank so so much again for doing this and letting us know something about the process.


THIS WAS A  SUCCESS   !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Here is the original article on the a 2nd grade art  project in Baltimore to help shelter animals:

Baltimore, MD – On Sunday, June 5, BARCS Animal Care and Rescue Center will be hosting a beautiful event – an auction for the animals.
But this is more than an auction to benefit the homeless pets….
It is an event that is surrounded by the most amazing, beautiful concept – children helping innocent pets.
To read the reminder of the original article, please click here

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