Shop class teacher, Barry Stewart in Jacksonville, Florida teaches construction in the most unorthodox way – building homes for homeless cats and pets. Over 600 dog houses have been built and over 100 for feral cats. All the shelters were built for pets by high school students, and this awesome project is gaining worldwide attention because students are learning practical career training while also helping animals.
Since 2002, this innovative teacher realized that teaching his students something valuable could also directly help the local animal community. What a creative idea to use your skills to give something back. It also gets the students interested in helping others; it’s a win-win!
Feral cats that have no owners are not people friendly. They must fend for themselves and often someone will put out food for them and become their caretaker. If not for these caretakers, they will live off of scraps of food and often deliver kittens with no way to feed them or protect them from the harsh climates.
The homes made by Mr. Stewart’s students are providing shelter for these kitty families. They are even equipped with removable roofs, which allow people looking after the cats to neuter and spay them and then return them to their home without a struggle.
The dog houses are designed to shelter canines from the wind and hold a dog bed for additional comfort. These houses are being used to set an example for offering proper shelter to pets. Most of the pet houses have been donated to an organization called Friends of Jacksonville Animals.
The homes have also been donated to low income families at no charge.
Students are able to learn the basics of home construction by building these miniature houses. They learn how to improve on their engineering and make changes that better suit the pet’s needs. This practical teaching tool could be implemented in more schools across the nation.
Why not have the students build things that are actually going to a good cause right? It probably also motivates the students to really do good work because it feels purposeful.
Animal welfare workers are using these homes to teach people how to protect their pets. The internet is also helping to get the word out about this idea, and the more this story is shared, the more animals will be able to have a nice place to sleep. How does this inspire you to make a difference in your community?
Are you familiar with the organizations that are helping animals who have no voice of their own in your area? We can all make a difference by raising awareness of these issues and sharing this story with the people we know.
Maybe you can speak to schools in your area about doing a similar project or start something on your own. These types of community building activities can also help keep kids out of trouble and teach them to give back to both humans and animals. Remember, the best way to help your community is to lead by example.
You can always check with your local SPCA or Animal Shelter about volunteer opportunities and encourage your friends to join you.