The B.C. SPCA recognizes that animals can help kids develop empathy and offers summer camp programs to create healthier communities.
Research from the University of Michigan suggests that youth are 40 per cent less empathetic than their peers were 30 years ago and more narcissistic.
Experts point to increased screen time as impacting a child’s empathy development: more kids are interacting with a screen instead of communicating face-to-face, which inhibits the development of emotional intelligence – the ability to recognize their own feelings and other people’s feelings.
A child’s ability to understand another person’s feelings is a valuable skill needed to build strong friendships and relationships and the SPCA is offering youth workshops and summer day camps that teach kids to respect animals, each other and nature.
“At camp, we provide opportunities for kids to interact with pets in a respectful, gentle and caring manner,” says Paula Neuman, humane education manager for the SPCA.
Cooperative learning activities help kids develop a respect for people’s differences and feelings while working towards common goals, according to the SPCA.
“Animals also provide youth, particularly boys, with a chance to practice their nurturing skills. Kids learn about animal care and animal welfare issues through fun activities, group discussion questions and projects.”
The SPCA’s summer camps enrich the lives of 1,600 youth across the province every year.
• Learn more: https://spca.bc.ca/programs-services/for-kids-teens/.