NORWALK – Students at Thomas B. Moffitt elementary school gathered after school on Wednesday in order to raise awareness for animal cruelty.
The students involved were part of the After School Education and Safety Prepatory program. ASES Prep is an after school program that aids elementary students with school work, while also teaching about social issues found in the real world.
“We take students in elementary school; the 12 different schools in Norwalk and La Mirada,” said Alexandra Gomez, an after school educator for the fourth grade. “We help them with homework, but we also teach them lessons about different social justice topics like love and respect, child labor, animal rights, things like that.”
At the end of the year, students involved in ASES participate in what are called “Prep talks,” where they study topics that could cause change and make the world a better place said site lead Yvette Macias.
Wednesday’s Prep Talk was hosted by the ASES fourth grade class, who chose the topic of factory farms and animal cruelty. The students prepared for over a month by researching online, reading articles, and watching videos.
“They were really astonished at what they saw and how the animals were being treated,” said Gomez. “So a lot of them took interest in this topic and decided to make it a class project.”
The presentation included various student speakers, as well as several tables set up with information on cows, chickens, pigs, and different ways to help the problem and raise awareness.
Kalia Simmons, one of ASES’s fourth graders, explained some of the hardships that the animals endured while at the factory farms.
“I’ve been reading articles and watching videos,” said Kalia. “They were cutting [the chicken’s] beaks off, putting them in wire cages, and put into shackles. They’re using them for food like chicken nuggets and eggs.”
“PETA undercover investigations have filmed people stomping on, kicking, and beating pigs with sticks,” said Ruben Rios, another fourth grader who presented. “Last but not least, 44,608 lives of pigs are taken each year for food. We have to make people remember or think about what’s happening to pigs and other animals in the factory farms.”
Other students advocated being an “animal ally” in addition to giving facts about factory farms and animal rights.
“An animal ally is someone who is trying to stop animal abuse,” said Katherine Aguirre, who wore the term across her shirt. Kathrine was one of a few students who was assigned to inform about cows.
“They’re being abused at factory farms, and we think they need to stop,” said Kathrine. “Cows are kind of like people too, so they need to live…It’s very important to me because I really love animals and I really want people to stop abusing them.”
Some students offered alternatives or solutions to the animal cruelty issue, including talking to their parents and participating in “Meatless Monday,” where students and their families would avoid eating any meat product on the first day of the week.
Some students even provided ways to avoid meat products entirely.
“We’re giving recipes that aren’t using meat, like meatless meatballs, veggie burgers, and bean and cheese burritos,” said Alberto Bravo.
In total, around 27 students spoke and distributed information. Gomez emphasized the importance of the student’s message because of its impact on society.
“In our culture I feel like we really like meat,” she said. “It’s not that expensive because of the ways it’s made. Mass production. We get cheap meat, but at what price? We get cheap meat, and we like meat, so that’s the good part. The bad part is that the animals are treated with disrespect and in a really cruel manner.”