Note: This is a chapter in the Grassroots Advocacy Toolkit.
Engaging young people in animal-related issues is how we ensure a compassionate, humane world for future generations. When you involve kids in your advocacy work, it’s also an opportunity to reach a bigger audience through the action your students take. From collecting donations and running lemonade stands to help animals at their local shelter to talking to their classmates and neighbors about homeless dogs and cats, kids can be an advocacy powerhouse.
Of course, be sure to always go through the proper channels when reaching out to schools or organizations that involve children. Contact the school’s administrative office first or someone you know who works at the school who can serve as a point person for advocacy efforts there.
Similar to the research you’ve already conducted related to your community’s lifesaving needs and your local allies, be sure to first familiarize yourself with any school or group you’re planning to contact and discuss how and what you’re going to present to the students. Remember to always be respectful of whoever you engage with throughout your campaign efforts.
Here are some initial ideas for involving schools and local youth groups in your campaign:
- Identify clubs and student council groups within the school that could help organize other students.
- Offer students a variety of fun, feel-good ways to get involved, such as creating adoption posters for pets at the shelter, making toys for cats and dogs from recycled material, and writing stories about their own pets, which can be used as part of a media campaign.
- Contact local shelters and other animal welfare groups about opportunities (and any related age restrictions) for young people to volunteer on behalf of the animals. Young children may not be old enough for some volunteer activities (e.g., walking dogs), but there are often other ways that they can help. For example, they could create “Adopt me” bandanas or stuff Kongs with peanut butter for dog treats.
- For older students in middle or high school, offer them the tools and support to create their own 2025 Action Team. High school students are perfectly positioned to help spread the word about important issues, events and petitions on social media and help with community outreach and engagement. And don’t forget that high school students are always looking for fun, creative activities to add to their résumés for new jobs and applications for college.