She created a sanctuary to rescue wayward animals. But that's only part of the story.

11 years ago, Alison and Steve Smith decided to open a sanctuary farm for unwanted miniature horses. But it quickly became much more than that.

Two days after opening the Triple H Miniature Horse Rescue in North Dakota, they welcomed Pebbles and Cocoa — their first two horses. Today, they've rescued well over 500 along with many other wayward animals including cats, dogs, goats, sheep, ducks, chickens, rabbits, and pigs that were cast out because of a disability.

Alison with several residents of the Triple H Miniature Horse Rescue. All photos courtesy of Alison Smith.


The Smiths made it their prerogative to save as many as they could — using every minute and dollar they could spare.

"We realized we had to expand our horizons and do more," writes Alison in an email.

For example, they drove 120 miles to rescue G.I. Joe — a small dog who was paralyzed from the waist down, and had to drag the lower half of his body around.

G.I. Joe on the farm with his patriotic wheelchair.

They took in a 10 week old kitten named Mowgli who'd lost his eyes to an infection, as well as a pot-bellied pig named Wanda and a Labrador named Martin, both of whom are also blind.

Mowgli and his dog friend Scarlett.

They also bottle-fed orphaned goats and saved a little poodle named Roy who was left at a mall because of a bad haircut.

Little Miss Chevious, the goat.

Needless to say, they're animal heroes.

Thanks to the Smiths' tireless dedication and love, their disabled animals recuperated and started thriving on the farm. And that's when Alison had an ingenious idea.

Why not bring this loveable squad around to local schools to help teach kids about empathy?

Just like that, the Compassion Crew was born.

The Compassion Crew — able to stop bullying with a single lick!

Alison took the Crew to Highland Acres, a local elementary school. She told the kids that the Crew “all have superpowers and they're called empathy and compassion," and then let them interact with her animals.

The result was nothing short of magical.

By using the animals as representations for people who look different, she was able to help the kids understand why bullying others is wrong.

“If you would not want to hurt this animal, why would you want to hurt a person with the same disability?" says Alison.

Dog members of the Compassion Crew, Scarlett (left) Roy (center), and G.I. Joe (right).

The lesson resonated with the kids so much, they wrote a number of letters to Alison thanking her for bringing her animal superheroes by.

Mowgli, the blind cat member of the Crew, made one of the biggest impressions.

A letter from one of the Highland Acres Elementary School kids.

In fact, Mowgli was actually the inspiration for Alison's dream project for the farm — their cat sanctuary Kitty City.

“We realized there was a big need in our area despite the great rescues that already existed," explains Alison.

So Kitty City acts as a fully-functioning adoption center, but it also provides a forever home for cats that, for whatever reason, can't be placed.

They also make it a priority to step in and take cats off death row at various local kill shelters when they run out of time. And once in the hands of the volunteers at the sanctuary, the cats receive nutritious food, medical care, and, most importantly, love, and attention.

Almost all the cats in Kitty City are adoptable, except, of course, for Mowgli who is a permanent member of the Smith family and the Compassion Crew.

Mowgli with another sanctuary animal friend.

That said, if you're interested in rescuing a blind cat, they have 15 others. Yes, they have some limitations, but they are just as loving and hilarious as any other cat.

While this new rescue endeavor has made it difficult for Alison to bring the Compassion Crew out to schools, it doesn't mean she's stopped.

In fact, she's beginning to offer on-site visits for kid groups like girl scout troops.

She hopes that this way, the Crew can continue to spread their anti-bullying message while she holds down the farm and all its working parts.

Atticus and his goat friend.

They're also always looking for volunteers, so if you happen to be in North Dakota, and want to spend a few hours surrounded by animals, now's your chance.

Or, if you don't live nearby, donations are always appreciated since the Smiths' have more than just a lack of helpers to worry about. They're up against brutally cold winters, which means they have to move their cat brood indoors from October through April. They're working on building out their indoor habitat, but the funds they can allocate are minimal.

All you have to do is look at what the Smiths have done to know they're brimming with empathy. And as long as their endeavors, like the Compassion Crew, prevail, they'll keep showing the next generation why compassion always wins.

Hello Humankindness
True
Dignity Health

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

Culture
via Cadbury

Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

WE Teachers
True
Walgreens
via KGW-TV / YouTube

One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture