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Wild at Heart Animal Refuge Inspires Students to Make a Difference

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Students from St. Anne Catholic Elementary School, teachers Cheryl MacRury and Kathy Belanger, and the Director of Education, Catherine McCullough visited the Wild at Heart Animal Refuge to present Dr. Jouppi with their donations on June 20th, 2012.

June 22, 2012 - Students in Cheryl MacRury’s Early Learning class and Kathy Belanger’s Grade 7 class at St. Anne Catholic Elementary School have been inspired. For the past year, these two classes have worked together to support the Wild at Heart Animal Refuge. What started out at as a proposal from the two teachers, resulted in a successful grant application from the Canadian Federation of Teachers to support the students learning about, and helping animals in the wild.
The students decided to call themselves the ABC’S – All Because of Caring Students, and decided that this project was about making a difference in the world, despite being a small group of young students. The project involved contacting and visiting community businesses to begin a fundraiser for the animal refuge. Knowing that ever cent makes a difference, they began a penny drive to help out the animals. Throughout the year, the classes had contact with Wild at Heart Animal Refuge veterinarian Dr. Jouppi and learned about what the centre does to support, protect and care for wild animals.
On June 20th, 2012, the students got on a bus, and visited each of the community business that helped them collect for one last collection, and the last stop on the road trip was at the Wild at Heart Animal Refuge where they got to see the facility and meet with Dr. Jouppi. Dr. Jouppi explained to the students that the centre should be ready within a year to be an educational facility – set up to educate groups about the animals - with an average of about 700 animals visiting the site each year, usually with 150 at the centre at any given time. Dr. Jouppi thanked the students for their donations and support and encouraged them to continue in their efforts to support the care of wild animals. “Living in Northern Ontario, it is our duty to treat animals with respect and to learn to live in harmony along side the animals as they were here first.” Jouppi said. The veterinarian also encouraged the students to tell others about the centre as they are in constant need for volunteers, not only to support the animals, but to help with the construction of the renovations to expand the centre, as well as with fundraising and education.
Both teachers have thoroughly enjoyed working on this year-long project with their students as it has positively affected the classes in numerous ways. “Not only did our students learn about protecting our environment and all the creatures that God has given us,” MacRury stated. “They have learned numeracy from counting the money, they have learned to be stewards of the earth, they have learned communication skills, technology skills in creating multi-media projects, and they have learned empathy in being more aware of what is happening in the world around them.” Kathy Belanger echoed MacRury’s comments and added that they two different classes working together has been a great experience for all the students as well. “Have students in different grades partner up and work together has given them both a different perspective and allowed for a really enriching mentoring opportunity. The younger students really look up to the older students and have been encouraged to be role-models. All of our students rose to the occasion and the whole experience was outstanding. I think this project will impact them for the rest of their lives as it was more than just a fundraiser, it allowed them to have more of a global perspective as it reinforced the importance of thinking of others before themselves.”
At the end of the penny drive, the students had raised over $200 for the centre as well as donated a newly built crate for the animals, a basket of fruit and other food items for the animals.

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