By Andrew Puccetti
There are many things that young people (or people of any age) can do to educate the public about animal rights, and one of the most effective is leafleting: Distributing free educational brochures to the public which, in this case, highlight key animal rights issues. A simple approach, it is a remarkably powerful way to reach out and be a voice for animals.
Although the thought of approaching strangers and handing them information may make you nervous, practice makes perfect—the more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll become. A good idea is to start by volunteering at another group’s leafleting event before planning your own.
Here are some more tips for an effective leafleting campaign:
1. Location, location, location. Pick a place to leaflet that is busy and where you are likely to run into other young people—such as near school campuses, outside of transportation stations, in public parks/squares, outside concerts, and at festivals. Make sure that the place you leaflet on is city-owned, otherwise you must first get permission from the property’s owner.
2. Have the right literature. Many of the larger animal rights and welfare organizations offer pamphlets for free on their websites that you can print out. If you’d rather make your own that’s fine too, but make sure you have someone else look it over before you print it to fact check and catch any typos.
3. Get your friends involved. A lot of people feel more comfortable leafleting with a friend or fellow animal advocate, and it’s definitely safer and more fun to leaflet with a group, so talk to your friends and see if anyone else wants to sign up to help.
4. Dress the part. First impressions are important, especially when you’re trying to get strangers to give you their attention. Consider the audience you are trying to reach out to when choosing what to wear..Jeans and a t-shirt work most of the time, but if you are leafleting in front of a sports event a home team might be a better choice.
5. Come with a good opening line. You’ll want to have a go-to phrase while handing out the literature––something as simple as “Do you have a second for animal rights?” will do. Make sure to use eye contact and always smile––you want to look approachable and relaxed (even if actually feeling nervous).
6. Be prepared. Although a lot people will just take the pamphlet and walk, others may want to stop and discuss the material. Make sure you know your information, and if they’re not on your pamphlet, keep a list of the sources you used handy. In the case that you do not have an answer, it is okay to tell the person that you do not know––direct them to an organization website or take their contact information down and follow up.
7. Stay positive. Not everyone will agree with your views and some may be vocal about it, but arguing with them is only a waste of time. If you find someone who only wants to debate with you, politely end the conversation and return to handing out leaflets. If the person will not leave or you feel harassed or threatened at any time, do not be afraid to call for help.
Remember that when leafleting, you become the face of animal rights for the people you meet––it is important to stay positive and encouraging, and to know your stuff. The more confident you are, the more effective your campaign. Good luck, and have fun!
Though only fifteen years old, Andrew Puccetti has already shown immense dedication and passion for the well-being of animals. Every other week Andrew will be here talking about the relationship between young people and animal rights–how they can make a difference, how they are already making a difference, and how important it is for kids to continue the fight for our animal companions. Learn about Andrew’s non-profit organization Live Life Humane and check out his blog!