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SUHASINI

Campaign by CAPE Foundation

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Story

While there is a robust demand for animals as pets amongst children, and parents fulfilling that demand, there is also an increasing number of cases of abandonment and cruelty. In slums and lower-income groups areas, we often see unimaginable cruelty inflicted on the free-roaming animals that live there. Most often by the children themselves.

Since the 1970s, research has reported cruelty towards animals as the first warning signs in children of later violence and criminal behaviour. It has been found that nearly all criminals have a history of animal cruelty and it is for this reason that adults should be mindful to explain to children that it is not okay to mistreat an animal, just like it is not acceptable to hit or mistreat another child.

Over the years, we have conducted workshops in schools with children, to familiarize them with animals and break their fears and inhibitions, and help them bond with animals; we noticed children's non-verbal communication with animals, their feeling of being unconditionally accepted and loved by animals and how this impacted their own wellbeing.

SUHASINI our AAT (animal-assisted therapy) module and CAPE Foundations flagship program since 2008, has helped children

understand and control their aggression towards animals and humans, explore various coping mechanisms and channelise their thoughts and feelings associated with violent behaviour.

The project promotes bonding with street animals, sometimes even leading to a lasting mutually beneficial relationship between an affection-starved child and an animal. Through our workshops, children soon learn that if they want to be liked and trusted by their pet or any animal they come across, they need to treat them carefully and kindly.

Interacting with animals, help children develop positive behaviour like kindness, subsistence, friendships and taking on responsibilities. Teaching children to be caring and nurturing towards animals is important for avoiding animal abuse while teaching them young will build them as socially and emotionally intelligent citizens of the future. Helping to take care of an animal will give them a sense of pride and accomplishment, especially if the animal is able to return the affection. The interactions have been helpful for developing non-verbal communication skills through touch, play and expression - these are completely opposite to the expression and communication that is expected of them in all other spaces. As they experience unconditional acceptance, they also are able to accept themselves better - they are able to love themselves more for who they are, regardless of their skills, capacities, wealth, power and other parameters. They learn kindness not as an act of charity or welfare, but as a language of communication - through emotions. This programme has, in the last few years, been implemented in various schools and organisations working in slum areas. The module is also relevant to childcare institutions such as shelters for destitute and orphaned children, children who are victims of trafficking, sexual abuse and exploitation, forced labour, and children who have been in conflict with the law for some offence or acts of violence they may have committed.

Our AAT workshops nurture emotional health and well-being in children by fostering children's relationships with

animals.

(Interacting with animals, help children develop positive behaviour like kindness, subsistence, friendships and taking

on responsibilities.)

Organisers
CAPE Foundation

CAPE Foundation

Beneficiary Charity

Radhika Bose

Radhika Bose

Organiser

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