Youth, Animals, Action! The Power of Kids and Teens Today

Room: St Laurent 8

Colleen Ovenden, Co-Director, ENGAGE: Animal Welfare Education
Emelie Luciani, Co-Director, ENGAGE: Animal Welfare Education

Running an animal welfare education program for youth in a shelter is often thought of as an investment in the future of animal welfare. It is perhaps because of this focus on youth programming’s distant benefits that animal welfare education is not treated as a priority in many shelters, as other priorities are often more pressing.

This presentation will demonstrate how kids and teens in fact have the power to affect real change – today, in the present. We will argue that youth can play a part in advancing animal welfare not only in the future, but right now. The effects and possibilities of kids and teens getting involved in animal shelters will be demonstrated through an exploration of the Montreal SPCA’s youth program; the only shelter in Quebec to offer animal welfare education. Three youth who are using their experiences at the Montreal SPCA as a springboard for further action will share what they are doing to improve not only the welfare of animals, but the community as a whole.


  1. The importance of youth programming in animal shelters both in the short-term and long-term.
  2. How youth are a necessity to advancing animal welfare – not just for the next generation but for right now.
  3. The power of youth to affect change.

Colleen Ovenden is the Co-Director of ENGAGE: Animal Welfare Education, an organization that brings together her commitment to animal welfare, youth empowerment and social justice. Prior to ENGAGE, she was the Director of Education and Community Outreach at the Montreal SPCA. Colleen holds an MA in Cultural Studies and a PhD (ABD) in Communication Studies.

Emelie Luciani
is the Co-Director of ENGAGE: Animal Welfare Education. Prior to this, she worked as the Animal Welfare Educator at the Montreal SPCA, Quebec’s largest and busiest animal shelter. She was also the organization’s Adoption and Foster Program Coordinator with more than seven years of experience. Emelie’s involvement in animal welfare education integrates her two passions: animals and working with youth. Emelie holds a BA in Sociology.