by Sarah Clark
Angelica Romero has been a member of the GAAP team for many years and focuses her work on education, community development, research, and veterinary clinical practice. She has a passion for education, particularly children’s education, and is most interested in developing GAAP’s educational programming.
In Todos Santos she has been leading the educational activities provided as two separate events during the annual week-long campaign, “School Day” and “Community Day”. The GAAP has been working to promote sterilization and rabies prevention in Todos Santos for years, and ultimately have incorporated fun educational programming for children so that, in Angelica’s words, “we can transmit the care for animals across generations.” Rabies also remains a large danger for children in Todos Santos. As Angelica explains, “Children intrinsically want to get close to animals, but it puts them at risk. So we teach them about the signs of rabies and other common diseases, and how to prevent dog bites so that they can protect their own health.”
During School Day, Angelica and a team of GAAP volunteers implemented a variety of activities for children in grades 1-6 and ages 6-12 years old. The activities were designed to reinforce the important concepts of sterilization and rabies prevention that the GAAP, and previously Veterinarians Without Borders, have been promoting in Todos Santos for years. The children listen to a story about a dog who has rabies, sing songs, color and draw pictures, and practice standing still or crouching down like a rock if threatened by a dog. For the days activities the GAAP always has a volunteer dress up like Scooby Doo too, which is unfailingly the biggest hit of the day.
When asked why she enjoys working with children Angelica replied, “Because it brings out the child in me! You have to speak in the language of the children, see or explain the world in a simpler form but in a way that attracts their attention. For example, with more movement (like dancing), so that the children can have fun. I’ve always valued in children their simplicity and their way of enjoying life. If you want to transmit what you’re teaching, you have to begin with yourself, you have to enjoy what you’re doing. So I’m working with children but also enjoying it!”
Since the GAAP began the systematic work with the community, the school in Todos Santos has been incorporating these important themes — like taking care of animals — into their classes. The GAAP programming has spurred interest in the Todos Santos teachers, and it’s exciting to see the children are able to keep having exposure to these concepts over the years. Moving forward, Angelica explained that the GAAP is going to be developing new interventions and new material so that the community can continue to deepen their understanding of the importance of caring for animals, as well as sterilization and rabies prevention.
Above all else, Angelica is constantly inspired by the children she meets. In her words, “What impacts me the most about these experiences is how simple it is for the children to be grateful. It’s so beautiful when they say “thank you” because it comes from deep inside them. It can be as simple as a hug and they’re revealing everything. It’s a significant experience, seeing their agility for saying thank you. It’s a small offering but just that simple gesture enriches your spirit.”