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Using chicks at wellness fair the wrong lesson

School wellness events, like the one recently held by Conger Elementary, are right to emphasize low-sugar drinks, exercise, and—why not?—competitive leaf raking. Using vulnerable chicks as teaching tools, however, is misguided and cruel.

Chick-hatching projects spell suffering for the animals who are used as unwilling participants in them. Chicks are separated from their caring mothers and denied important developmental opportunities, such as hearing their mothers softly cluck to them (and peeping back) while they are still in their shells. An incubator is no substitute for a mother’s love, and can lead to life-threatening physical deformities for chicks if the eggs aren’t properly rotated. Let’s not forget our wellness, either: Recent research from Oxford University found that eating chicken flesh is associated with an increased risk of several types of cancer.

Sending chicks off to be killed for their flesh also teaches children to ignore their natural empathy—a dangerous lesson—and may cause some to rightly question why some animals are loved as our companions, while others are killed and eaten. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Parents can start the whole family on the path to a healthy and humane lifestyle by visiting www.PETA.org for a free vegan starter kit.

Jessica Bellamy

Norfolk, Va.