On a beautiful sunny Saturday morning on April 15, 2018, Twenty-eight families, with children aged anywhere from 2 -12, arrived at Xenophon to learn about “compassionate critters” and how animals help humans. The event was planned in conjunction with Mindful Littles, a non-profit in Moraga, whose mission is to inspire parents and children to be more mindful and compassionate by participating in meaningful service projects. The focus of the day was to inspire compassion for animals by learning about the ways that animals can be more than pets and actually help humans.
The day started with Yoga-based group stretching activities in which the children were “tall like a giraffe” or “strong like an elephant”. From there, they learned about the horses at Xenophon and the special children and adults that they help. To develop compassion for the challenges that some individuals face, the children tried puzzles, beads and latches with one of their hands impacted by a glove. From there it was off to meet the therapy animals who had come to the center.
With “passports” in hand, the children rotated to stations to meet therapy dogs and therapy horses. We were disappointed that LiLou, the therapy pig, had to cancel last minute due to her owner’s illness, but the other two groups held much interest. Six different dogs from Valley Humane Society patiently greeted the 30+ children that eagerly waited to make their acquaintance. True to their training, the Xen horses stood quietly by while necks and shoulder were groomed and petted. . Each station offered the children interesting facts about what these special animals do, and these could be used to answer questions in their passports The last station was for making cookies for the Xenophon horses using oats, molasses and flour. Our Xenophon horses are grateful for the treats.
It was a wonderful day, packed with information, but more importantly it provided the foundation for compassion about the important role that these special animals play in the lives of humans.