Ian Somerhalder is opening an animal sanctuary to help kids!  »

Ian Somerhalder just stole my best idea! My dream is to have an animal shelter that’s also an after school program for wayward youth. By learning to love and care for the neglected animals, they would learn to love and care for themselves! Perf! 

Great idea, right? Well I guess Somerhalder agrees! He’s buying a farm in Louisiana to create just such a shelter. His plan however is to specifically target bullies. From E! Online:

It’s all about collaboration and compassion… If you can empower someone who’s really young, who’s had a really tough go at it, to find compassion by using animals—because it’s so much easier than with people—then you have something. Now you’ve started to engage these kids and they’ll learn not to fight… They really realize what a full life you can have if you just get rid of those demons that we all have.

OMG I love him. But he stole my idea! JK, I’m just glad somebody is doing it. My plan was for the distant, distant future. 

If you’ve never read about the benefits of animal-assisted therapy for kids, you need to because it’s some really amazing stuff. Programs where kids can read to dogs have been shown to improve literacy and kids’ confidence in readingDogs are also helping young people testify in abuse cases and tell their story. Adult survivors of sexual abuse listed childhood pets as trusted confidants. Animals have been shown to help kids with terminal illness, mental problems, autism, and physical challenges. And I’ve seen amazing features on Animal Planet about the benefits of dog training rescue dogs for kids in juvenile detention centers. It’s great for instilling self-discipline. They were also saying one of the hardest things for the kids to do was show affection—some of them had never been shown affection themselves—but they had to learn to in order to train the dogs with positive reinforcement. It’s just really amazing stuff. 

Keeping all that in mind, I have high hopes for Somerhalder’s shelter. Bonus: it’s also going to be eco-friendly. Damn, son, he thought of everything!

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