ENGAGE: Animal Welfare Education is a non-profit organization dedicated to building empathy among youth. Through experiential learning with companion animals, ENGAGE encourages youth to practice the values of respect, cooperation, compassion, responsibility, and civic engagement.
Drawing on research linking animal-assisted programs to the successful development of empathy and prosocial behaviour, ENGAGE empowers youth to participate in the creation of a more socially-conscious society – one that reflects our love for animals, and for each other.
ENGAGE offers an innovative on-site program comprised of four 2.5-hour interactive workshops tailored to different age groups. Each workshop features hands-on activities with carefully selected animals, meaningful group discussions, and creative animal-enrichment projects.
ENGAGE works collaboratively with organizations such as schools and community groups to promote animal welfare and thereby improve not only the lives of animals but of the community as a whole.
Emelie Luciani worked as an animal welfare educator at the Montreal SPCA, Québec’s largest and busiest animal shelter. She was also the organization’s Adoption and Foster Program Coordinator with over seven years’ experience. Emelie’s involvement in animal welfare education integrates her two passions: animals and working with youth. Emelie holds a BA in Sociology.
Colleen Ovenden is the former Director of Education and Community Outreach at the Montreal SPCA and creator of the highly-successful Youth Ambassador Program, an empathy-building animal advocacy initiative for youth aged 10-17. Prior to her career at the Montreal SPCA, Colleen was an educational consultant at the elementary and secondary levels, and worked closely with the directives of the Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur (MÉES). Colleen holds an MA in Cultural Studies and a Ph.D. (ABD) in Communication Studies.
Mikayla O-Beaudry is the former Youth Ambassador to the Montreal SPCA as well as the Youth Ambassador Program’s peer educator. In 2016, Mikayla was named as one of P.K. Subban’s Inspired By the Brave for her involvement at the Montreal SPCA. Also in 2016, Mikayla was nominated for a Young Québecers Leading the Way Award and in 2017, she participated in a series of conferences where participants aged 15 to 25 offered their views on the significance of youth engagement in shaping the future of their country. Mikayla has been called a voice for her generation.
[Colleen et Emelie] nous ont expliqué comment se comporter devant les animaux et ce que nous devons éviter face à ces animaux. Elles nous ont informés de la problématique des chats errants à Montréal ainsi que de l’importance de stériliser ces animaux. De plus, nous avons l’opportunité de vivre de nombreuses activités et de socialiser avec les chatons cherchant un foyer.
Étudiants de la 6e année,
La seule chose que je n’ai pas aimée c’était quand il fallait partir!
Guiliano, 4e année,
Académie John Caboto
Colleen and Emelie have developed a sound pedagogical and human approach to engaging young people in understanding the foundational issues around animal welfare. The personal and passionate commitment to the protection of animals modeled by the program has resulted in a strong engagement on the part of the students.
Danielle Delhaes, Coordinator, Community
Learning and Sustainability Programs,
St. Georges School of Montreal
All the interactive and hands-on activities [a]ffected me a lot. I felt included and I enjoyed every moment.
Jamie, Secondary V,
Pheonix Alternative High School..