Animal Assisted Education

HAMA’s AAE (Animal Assisted Education) was created in cooperation with the Maayan-Shahar Regional Jr. High-High School in Kibbutz Ein HaHoresh in 2010. It is indeed the first program of its kind in Israel. The Program was originally inspired by Pam and her AAE English Tutorial Program for HAMA. The classroom was co-directed by Ms. Susan Levron of the school’s English Department under the supervision of Ms. Irit Moran, Principal and Ms. Margalit Levy, School Guidance Counselor.

The School’s most advanced 8th grade students who also demonstrated an unusual degree of aptitude in English were given an enrichment course in English which focused upon the human-animal bond and the dynamics of Animal Assisted Intervention (AAI) in the community and schools, hospitals and social service agencies. Particular emphasis was placed on the mutually beneficial relationship between human and animal welfare.

We exposed the children to academic texts, literature and film, as well as actual working siuations with HAMA’s therapy dogs and cats in therapeutic settings. Not only were the students learning English in a unique and exciting way, but more importantly they were learning what “Tikkun Olam” is all about. In 2011 these students culminated their program by planning and participating in a special day of Animal Assisted Activities with children institutionalized at the Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot with Diabtes 1.

The following year, 2012, this same group of exceptional students, now in the ninth grade added greater breadth and depth to their understanding of human and animal welfare by serving as AAI counselor interns. These gifted students worked with 7th graders in the first special needs start-up class in the school for gehavioral and learning challenges. This was the first of its kind at the school and a model for other educational institutions.

The support system provided by the animals and older students to the newcomers had a significant impact on their successful integration into the school. The older students found themselves going beyond the parameters of the conventional classroom with a keener sense of social responsibility and the fulfillment it gives when we reach out and enrich other souls in need.

“Tikkun Olam” is inherent to all of our educational Program, Gateways to Learning Through Animals, like our other programs, is in urgent need of funding for renewal. Hopefully we will ourselves will be enabled to expand and export tsimilar programs to other schools, particularly those in the most peripheral and/or socio-economically distressed communities.