By Meagan Perle
For Hometown News
MARTIN COUNTY - On July 28, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Palm Beach and Martin counties took about 25 children and mentors to an educational tour of Caring Fields Animal Sanctuary in Palm City to teach them ways to have compassion toward animals.
Jeanie Flanagan, the client relations specialist for Big Brothers Big Sisters, said that the organization tries to do these outings with the mentors and children at least once a month to give them something they are able to do together.
"We're always looking to educate both the 'Bigs' and 'Littles,'" Flanagan said. "Although we didn't really know what Caring Fields was all about before we got there, we knew that children always take really well to animals."
The trip to Caring Fields didn't cost the organization any money. All of the children were picked up by their mentors and brought to the sanctuary in Palm City.
Susan Hargreaves, the director of Florida programs for the Pegasus Foundation, guided the group through a humane education presentation, a vegetarian snack, a tour of the Caring Fields grounds and a meet and greet with the saved horses and cats.
The humane education presentation entitled, "Be An Animal Hero," taught the children about what to do if they encounter a stray animal. The children were also given Animal Hero Cards, which listed any phone numbers they may need if this happens.
"I think everyone left us with a greater understanding of how they could help animals," Ms. Hargreaves said.
Caring Fields is a 23-acre animal sanctuary owned by the Pegasus Foundation. Its mission is to provide a safe place for the rescue, rehabilitation and re-homing of horses and cats.
Big Brothers Big Sisters provides children, ages 6-17, facing adversity with a volunteer mentor who is there to serve as a positive role model. The organization has been pairing 'Bigs' and 'Littles' together in Martin County since 1986 and started doing the same for Palm Beach in 2010.
Ms. Flanagan said that the best part about the trip was watching the enthusiasm each child had, and seeing the mentors feed off that.
"The process of pairing a mentor with a child is extremely thorough, it's great to watch the interaction," Ms. Flanagan said.
For more information on the Big Brothers Big Sisters visit www.mentorbig.org.