STORY PREVIEW

2019

Where do abandoned animals come from?

Taras Shevchenko Himnazia

Ukraine

MENTOR

Hanna Dudich and Olha Ivashura

STUDENTS

Tereza Ivashura,

Sofiia Tkachenko ,

Kateryna Bodiul,

Karolina Heidarova,

Tetyana Davydova,

Mykola Kaushan,

Linchevska Anastasiia,

Yelyzaveta Podopryhora,

Yelyzaveta Slipchenko,

Kateryna Ovcharenko,

Step 1 FEEL

Among the problems in our surrounding we noticed the following ones: litter in the local park and recreation areas; most public places including educational establishments are only formally inclusive for people with disabilities, but in fact such people are practically cut out of most social events; huge number of stray dogs and cats in the city streets and inefficient and poorly financed animal shelter.

We decided to research the problem of abandoned animals in our community because this problem is very urgent. A lot of people have been bitten by stray animals, a lot of pets were attacked. The only city shelter is under financed and neglected. It functions only due to volunteers and people's donations and is not supported by the government. Local citizens have been asking city authorities to build a decent shelter for a long time. But very few people stop to think what every one of us can do to sort out this problem: from raising people's awareness that they are responsible for their pets to volunteering in the shelter or running a campaign to raise money to support the shelter animals.

There are a lot of people affected by the problem of stray animals: first of all, children of different ages, because they are usually the first to be attacked or bitten. Secondly, parents, who are concerned about their children's health. Thirdly, animal shelter volunteers, who have devoted their lives to the noble mission of saving abandoned animals, however their actions are just a drop in the ocean because the problem is huge in our community. And finally, educators. Because if we teach children to be responsible, compassionate, empathetic with animals, they will become better grown ups in future.

Step 2 IMAGINE

Solution #1: Students become volunteers in the local animal shelter and help to look after the animals. Solution #": Students together with their family members and educators donate some money for the needs of the local animal shelter. Solution #3: Students start a campaign to raise awareness of the general public about responsible pet ownership and problems of the local shelter.

We have decided to implement solution #3, that is to start a campaign to raise awareness of the general public about responsible pet ownership and problems of the local shelter. We believe that a lot of people just do not realize that most shelter animals used to be someone's pets who were abandoned by their owners for some reason. The campaign will allow to attract attention of a wider audience to the problem of stray animals in the city and join efforts of students, parents, educators, local politicians, NGOs in order to solve the problem.

Step 3DO

The local animal shelter in our town is situated in the outskirts of the city. A lot of city residents are simply unaware of its existence and the problems of its inhabitants. In order to raise public awareness about the problems of stray animals and local animal shelter the students of our school decided to make a documentary video. We have chosen immersive story telling. With the help of a 360 video we have shown the life of a shelter dog through the eyes of a dog itself, beginning with being somebody's pet and ending up in a run down shelter. We have chosen such a format because we believe that immersive video can convey feelings and emotions in a really powerful way. Moreover, we disseminated our video in YouTube and on social networks, thus addressing a great number of audience, especially among the youth, who find internet videos really engaging. Also, we submitted our video to the local youth media competition where it won the first place, and to the international competition MyWorld360, where it was chosen to be included in the playlist and will be shown at various conferences all over the world, where people will speak about Sustainable Development Goals. With all these actions we tried to attract public attention to the problem of animal shelters and stray animals in general. Our next step was to organize a charity dog show for the shelter animals. Our school team partnered up with the local pet shops who provided food for the event and grooming for the shelter dogs. The event took place in the local park. Prior the event the students took photos of the shelter dogs. All people could take a shelter dog they liked and for a fee of 20 hrivnas (this is our Ukrainian currency) the participants could perform with a shelter dog in the dog show. All the money raised at the event went to the needs of the local animal shelter, but what is more important, wider audience became aware of the problem of stray animals and animal shelter. Our next step was a charity marathon organized at the beginning of the summer school. Our students together with teachers, parents, a local city council member Andrii Tabalov, local military and police officers and representatives of local NGOs "Skyscraper" and "Bim" ran to raise money for several charity organizations, among which was the local animal shelter. We raised 9000 hrivnas, 1/3 of which was donated to the needs of the animal shelter.

As the result of our campaign we raised 3000 hrivnas for the animal shelter during the marathon and 2000 hrivnas during the dog show. We provided a platform for the shelter volunteers to talk about their problems in front of the members of the local community. We managed to join forces of the students, educators, parents, NGOs, city council members, police and other members of the local community in the effort to make our city safe and convenient to live in and to develop responsibility for the living beings whom we tamed and adopted. We raised public awareness of the problem of stray animals. We developed students' active citizenship, leadership skills and creativity and showed them that they are capable of changing the world around them for better caring about wellbeing of other biological species.

3000

"When I first entered the local stray animals shelter, I was totally shocked by the smell inside, by the overcrowded rooms and cages where animals were kept. The room territory was badly lit, animals were all nervous. With the help of simple mathematical proportions we tried to show how many people would fit into the room the same size as the shelter room to imagine what it would feel to be an animal in that shelter. Before organizing this campaign I was not aware of the problem of stray animals and animal shelters in my town. Now I know what I can do to help." - Tetyana Davydova, the student of the 9th form, the project participant. "A lot of city residents call the city shelter volunteers when they see stray dogs or cats in the streets. They all want us to come quickly and take the animal away from the street. However, once it is removed from the street, people usually forget about its further fate. The city animal shelter is not financed by the local government, it functions only on the voluntary basis. These kids have done a great job not only raising the money for the shelter, but also raising people's awareness that each and every one of us is responsible for the animals that we take into our homes. Stray animals used to be someone's pets who have become neglected. I hope that people will become more responsible as the result of this campaign." - Kate Dorosh, the animal shelter volunteer and keeper.

Some people strongly believe that animal shelters should be kept and maintained only by the government and that they are not worth spending money on, because in a developing country like ours there are many more urgent problems. By our campaign we tried to show that members of the local community are quite capable of solving some local problems. Of course, raising money for animal charity is important, but even more important is to raise people's responsibility for their community wellbeing and for their actions.

MORE THAN 30 DAYS

Sustainable cities and communities

Our project addressed several Sustainable Development Goals: Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation, Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, Goal 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss. It happens because SDGs are interconnected. However, the project is mostly focused on sustainable cities and communities. Unfortunately, it is quite typical for most post soviet societies to rely mostly on government and authorities when it comes to dealing with local problems. We want to show that members of local communities are capable of changing situation for better if they develop active citizenship and leadership skills.

Step 4 SHARE

We disseminated our project video in YouTube and on the school Facebook page, thus addressing a great number of audience, especially among the youth, who find internet videos really engaging. Also, we submitted our immersive documentary video to the local youth media competition where it won the first place, and to the international competition MyWorld360, where it was chosen to be included in the playlist and will be shown at various conferences all over the world, where people will speak about various community projects focused on Sustainable Development Goals. With all these actions we tried to attract public attention to the problem of animal shelters and stray animals in general. Our next step was to organize a charity dog show for the shelter animals. Our school team partnered up with the local pet shops who provided food for the event and grooming for the shelter dogs. The event took place in the local park. All the money raised at the event went to the needs of the local animal shelter, but what is more important, wider audience became aware of the problem of stray animals and animal shelter. Our next step was a charity marathon organized at the beginning of the summer school. Our students together with teachers, parents, a local city council member Andrii Tabalov, local military and police officers and representatives of local NGOs "Skyscraper" and "Bim" ran to raise money for several charity organizations, among which was the local animal shelter. We raised 9000 hrivnas, 1/3 of which was donated to the needs of the animal shelter. All the events that took place during the awareness campaign organized by our students were highlighted in the local media, thus addressing even wider audience. The response of the audience was positive. People were inspired and motivated to take action.

More than 100

We will continue public actions aimed at raising money for the shelter as well as people's awareness. As a result of our campaign, several students of our school took home cats and dogs from the shelter. We would like to make video documentaries and write articles to local newspapers describing successful stories of positive actions.