Teachers Learn to ‘Do it with Kindness’ during Be Kind Belize workshop in Belmopan – Be Kind Belize, the humane education programme, started in San Pedro in 2007 is spreading kindness across the country. During a three day workshop on November 19, 20 & 21, hosted by Belmopan Humane Society, Colette Kase, Be Kind Belize founder, taught teachers and animal welfare volunteers the principals of humane education and helped them to kick start an important new programme in our capital city.
Belmopan Humane Society, with a grant provided by the US Embassy, have started an ambitious new effort to teach children the importance of kindness and to help them develop empathy – the ability to understand what it feels like to be in someone else’s situation. Be Kind Belize was invited to provide materials and train humane educators for this groundbreaking programme in Belmopan, providing them with everything they need to work with ‘at risk’ children in Belmopan and surrounding areas.
Belmopan Humane Society had selected a group candidates, some with many years teaching experience, who wished to become ‘humane educators’. Several volunteers from the Humane Society also participated, as well as a number of local children, who were lucky enough to be able to benefit from the practical sessions. The issue of dog fighting was raised amongst research clearly demonstrating that children who are exposed to cruelty to animals are more likely to become involved in serious criminal activity and violence as adults.
It was noted that children who are exposed to dog fighting and the criminal activities associated with it are highly at risk. A special Power Point, covering the history of the Pit Bull, highlighting its many services to human kind as a military dog, police dog, search and rescue dog and drug detection dog – in fact the most successful drug detection dog ever was a rescued Pit Bull – was shown as a means to help educate young people about the reasons why dog fighting is wrong and illegal.
The workshop was an eye opener for some participants, covering issues ranging from using positive reinforcement in teaching to understanding the status of many endangered species in Belize. Educators learned how to use interactive lessons involving art, drama, mathematics, writing, and science to allow the children to explore the concepts of kindness and responsibility. Because the programme uses a broad range of teaching approaches, children enjoy the classes and are highly motivated to participate, which in itself is hugely rewarding for the educators.
Nikki Buxton, of Belmopan Humane Society and Belize Bird Rescue said ‘The children who will be invited to take part in humane education through this programme will have been identified as ‘at risk’. We hope that by providing them with a new way of looking at the world, helping them to understand the consequences of their behaviour upon themselves, the people and animals around them and their community, they will be more likely to become responsible and thoughtful adults. By teaching children that violence is wrong whether committed against humans or non humans and by offering them choices in life that make kindness, generosity and empathy signs of strength and not weakness, we hope that we are positively investing in the future of Belize.’
Be Kind Belize is a free programme, designed to complement the Belize National Curriculum. It is available to any school that would like to introduce the concept of kindness to their pupils. Volunteers are always welcome. If you would like more information about how you or your school could participate in Be Kind Belize or if you would like to volunteer, please contact Colette Kase on 226 4366.