Animals Helping People
Event location: Crosskennan Lane
Start date: 28 March 2010
End date: 28 March 2015
Crosskennan Lane Animal Sanctuary (CLAS) serves a dual purpose; helping animals in need who, in turn, help people in need. The sanctuary is concerned with the rescue and rehabilitation of animals, in particular horses and ponies, that have been abused and neglected. We are committed to securing their lives, safeguarding their wellbeing and protecting their futures. CLAS is committed to playing an educational role in Northern Ireland. All the animals in our care have been rescued from difficult, sometimes abusive, situations and through work, respect and compassion have learned to trust again. We feel that much can be learned from spending time with them. CLAS remains at heart a voluntary organisation with a shared and encompassing ethos that tries to extend a helping hand to all, people and animals.
One of the sanctuary’s major strengths has always been its desire and ability to have a positive impact on young people through its participation in numerous youth initiatives and training courses. Studies have shown that animals can be very effective in aiding the development of many life and social skills. Following the success of our pilot scheme with young people from the Youth Justice Agency and Northern Ireland Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (NIACRO), CLAS is now running regular ‘Animals Helping People’ projects for groups and, on request, individuals. The overall aim of these projects is to show disadvantaged and/or marginalised young people how to channel their skills and energy in a positive direction, through a series of hands-on animal care workshops. These will be held at the sanctuary for groups of up to eight youths accompanied by their supervisors/mentors. Our project offers young people the opportunity to learn new skills, build confidence, motivation and self-esteem by working independently with animals and learning all aspects of their care. We provide information, advice and guidance to help the young people involved, who, in turn, gain a certificate in animal care, thereby giving them a sense of achievement.
- To improve social interaction of young people in a safe and non-judgemental environment; animals are excellent social facilitators enabling people to communicate and be at ease with each other. They provide a constant, non-judgemental, enthusiastic friendship which increases self-esteem.
- To help young people identify their skills and qualities and channel them in a positive direction by participating in a hands-on animal care course which give them the chance to draw on a range of skills such as leadership abilities, communication skills and practical intelligence.
- To increase the confidence of young people, a necessary factor if we are to motivate change. Each young person is assigned to an individual animal at the beginning of the project. Over the weeks they will build up a strong relationship with their animal which is sure to be mutually rewarding.
- To educate the next generation in aspects of animal welfare.
We endeavour to help the young people benefit from the project at many different levels. By giving them the opportunity to take on the responsibility of caring for animals and working together on various structured activities, their self-esteem and confidence are boosted and they learn the importance of respect; respect for themselves, respect for others, respect for animals and their shared environment. They are motivated to increase their knowledge and improve their social and communicative skills. Of course, they have lots of fun during their time at the sanctuary too and leave with a proud sense of achievement.
We feel this project provides a new approach to developing young people’s social skills. A person’s self-worth can be raised through contact with animals, by being given the chance to take on responsibilities; responsibility for the care of a living creature, be it a child, an elderly person or an animal. Our project targets areas, groups and individuals within Northern Ireland with a need to develop their communicative and social skills. We provide activities in a safe and neutral environment where young people can express themselves without being judged; animals do not judge. Our project is unique in Northern Ireland and, although it is relatively new, is already highly esteemed.
Interested? Get in touch for more information.