By Leah Kelly
Every year, thousands of people across North America participate in an incredible mass display of compassion towards farmed animals — some of the most abused on the planet. Farm Sanctuary’s annual Walk for Farm Animals campaign is a hugely successful national fundraiser to support the organization, which works to rescue and rehabilitate mistreated farm animals at its three (soon to be four) farmland sanctuaries in California and New York.
Anyone who wants to participate can register online and join a “team” with which to walk in one of fourteen different cities across the U.S. and one in Canada.
Because Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp serves vegan food and values animal rights alongside other important social justice issues it trains campers to work on, it’s no surprise that a lot of campers and staff members joined the Walk at locations all over the country.
In a mini reunion, YEA Camp counselor Madeleine Lifsey joined camp director/founder Nora Kramer and former campers (now staff!) Shelby Kim and Jasmine Caruk at the Boston March. They also volunteered to gather signatures for Massachusetts’ ballot initiative for farm animals, which has since qualified to be voted on in November 2016.
A larger YEA Camp reunion took place at the New York Walk for Farm Animals, where campers Ananya Singh, Eva Schenk, Bryn Colodny, Ollie Smith, Lillian Davis-Bosch, Sarah Sciortino, Rachel Gayle, Marcela Cueto and Lori Baccari formed a team that came in third place for amount of money raised, at $1,681.
If that’s not awesome enough, they also got to meet Farm Sanctuary founder Gene Baur and talk with him about YEA Camp! They leafleted along the way, and even passed out leaflets on the subway after it was over before going out to have vegan lunch.
Ananya recounts, “It was an enjoyable experience, and it helped me learn about the great things Farm Sanctuary is doing, and to meet and educate people about it!” Ananya also won top youth fundraiser for the NYC WFFA.
YEA Campers participated in these walks on the east coast, on the west coast, and in the Midwest.
Claire Tamburello, 18-year-old former camper who this year worked a Counselor In Training at YEA Camp’s New York camp, has been a dedicated animal activist for years, as featured on our YEA Camp blog. She is a regular at Farm Sanctuary walks and raised money and awareness for animals in Grand Rapids, MI.
I myself walked in Hartford and raised hundreds of dollars for farm animals. It was a wonderful experience!
Not only did I get to speak up in the name of animals, but I also got to walk with a group of brilliant animal activists from my own community.
My whole family walked with me, including my dog! By raising over $100, I received a special T-shirt I wore for the walk. Afterwards, we all got to hang out in the park, eat vegan snacks, and listen to a live performance.
What an amazing, heartwarming experience! The compassion shown by these YEA Campers and everyone who marched and fundraised is enormous. Thanks to their dedication and many other kind advocates and donors from across the country, Farm Sanctuary was able to raise nearly $150,000 for farm animals over the course of just a few days.
We can be certain that next fall, YEA Campers will be back on the streets of the largest cities in the country, at it again. For more information on Farm Sanctuary’s life-saving work, visit farmsanctuary.org and check out walkforfarmanimals.org to learn how you can sign up to walk next year!
The youth activists mentioned in this article all nurtured and developed their activist passions, skills, and community at Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp, a life-changing summer camp for world-changing teens. If you know of any tween/teen, aged 12-17, who has a passion in activism, whether it be for animal rights, feminism, LGBTQ, racial justice, environmentalism, or any other topic, check out yeacamp.org to find out how to sign up for this week-long camp, held this summer in California, New York and Massachusetts. New York’s session will be a special session just for animal advocates held at the similarly amazing Woodstock Farm Sanctuary! Register by Valentine’s Day 2016 to earn an early-bird discount of $150!
About the author: Leah is a 17-year-old, two-time Youth Empowered Action Camp alum and co-editor of the YEA Blog. She has a special interest in animal rights and has visited Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, New York, where she made friends with cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys and goats!