By Susan Richard with reporting by Mike Larkin
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The ASPCA has announced a $12,500 grant to “Unleashed,” a New York City based non-profit group that aims to empower young girls by advocating for animal welfare.
Unleashed provides after school programs that rotate at schools throughout the five boroughs. This semester’s programs were launched last week at MS7, Urban Assembly and the Lab School.
Groups of 10 to 15 girls work with female coaches once a week learning leadership skills and the necessary tools to become animal advocates in their communities, including learning about different animal cruelty issues and what can be done to solve such complex social issues, including animal homelessness, dog fighting and puppy mills.
“Our philosophy is that the human rights and animal rights movements are very synergistic,” Unleashed founder and CEO Stacey Radin told 1010 WINS. “So over the course of the 12 weeks, while the girls are talking about and learning about and researching the many different issues including homelessness, abandonment, neglect, overpopulation, dog fights, puppy mills – you name it – they’re also digging deep beneath the surface to understand the root of the cause of these issues and then looking at the consequences if those issues continue to happen.”
Radin says the girls learn to design education awareness campaigns to inform others about these issues to either put a halt to them entirely, or to create sustainable change.
Each participant assists with at least one animal rescue of puppies from an overcrowded shelter, helping with intake of the animals, behavior assessments and recruiting foster families and adopters.
The girls are also tasked with creating a “social justice carnival” to engage the public in making a difference through various activities such as making dog bowls and toys for a local animal shelter.
In a statement, ASPCA grants officer Justine Dang said their organization is proud to help Unleashed empower New York City youth by giving them the tools to impact the lives of animals.
“We hope this program will build future generations of animal advocates by providing animal cruelty education at a young age”, she said.
After-school programs are slated to launch at more schools this fall, including the Clinton School for Writers and Artists and Nightingale-Bamford. They’ll also be offered for foster children at Edwin Gould Services for Children and Families in Brooklyn.
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