For decades the HSUS has published Kind News, a magazine that educates elementary school children— and often their parents and teachers—about the animals who share our world and how to care for them. Earlier this year publication of the magazine was transferred to RedRover, a nonprofit that works to strengthen the bond between people and animals through emergency sheltering, disaster relief services, financial assistance and education.
While the popular magazine has changed hands, it hasn’t changed mission. The eight-page publication helps children understand and respect animals and think about why treating animals and people with kindness matters. The magazine encourages both empathy and critical thinking in children by celebrating the human-animal bond and it helps motivate youngsters to take action to improve the lives of animals.
Nicole Forsyth, president, and CEO of RedRover said Kind News will be incorporated into the RedRover Readers program as another tool for helping children understand animals better and develop stronger, more empathetic relationships. The magazine is especially impactful, the CEO said, because it is aimed at age groups that are just starting to form relationships with pets in their homes or communities.
“These are often the first relationships kids have control over,” Forsyth said. “We want them to think critically about how you become friends with animals and how that relates to becoming friends with classmates. That self-awareness will make society better overall and help increase kindness across the board.”
First Issue to Hit Classrooms in September
In September the first issue of the magazine will be delivered to 4,244 classrooms in addition to home subscriptions. While a lot of the content and structure of the publication remains the same, there are some differences. RedRover is more focused on animal companions so there will be fewer stories about wildlife and farm animals.
The first issue focuses on cat behaviors and how to recognize when a cat is happy or afraid. It is the first in an eight-part series on animal emotions. The magazine will also incorporate more of the RedRover Reader program strategies with open-ended questions designed to get children to think critically about their relationships with animals. Kind News will continue to highlight books, featuring many of the titles from RedRover’s Recommended Children’s Books with Humane Themes list.
“We believe that by increasing empathy early in a child’s life we can prevent a lot of the abuse, neglect and suffering of animals that we deal with on a regular basis,” Forsyth said.
She offers as an example a young girl in a RedRover Readers after-school program at a food pantry in Sacramento, CA, who told the instructors that she and her aunt threw rocks at cats who wandered into her aunt’s backyard.
“It was very clear that the girl liked it when she hit the cats and thought she was doing a good thing,” Forsyth said.
RedRover makes a point of running programs in tough neighborhoods where kids are frequently exposed to animal cruelty such as the mistreatment of free roaming cats and dog fighting. The goal is to provide children in these communities with an alternate narrative so that when they are faced with situations – for example, the opportunity to fight a dog – they will reflect on what they read and discussed with peers and instructors in the RedRover Readers program and make a humane choice.
The humane education program certainly changed the mind of the young girl who joined her aunt in abusing cats.
“After reading books about cats and developing an understanding of their behaviors she told us that she would never throw rocks at them again,” Forsyth said. “She understood that the cats felt fear and she didn’t want them to be afraid.”
Bringing Kind News into the Classroom
Kind News is currently available in three reading levels: Primary (grades K-2), Junior (grades 3-4) and Senior (grades 5-6). Beginning in February of 2018, it will be available in two levels: Kind News Junior (grades K-2) and Kind News (grades 3-6).
Through the Adopt-a-Classroom program, humane agencies, civic groups, parents, businesses and other individuals or groups can “adopt” elementary school classes by providing them with annual gift subscriptions of Kind News. RedRover offers a special discount for humane societies and shelters who adopt classrooms.
Individual subscriptions of Kind News make a great gift for an elementary school child. The magazine includes parent and teachers guides that offer ideas on how to reinforce lessons contained in the magazine.
Photo courtesy of RedRover