Once upon a time there was a big storm that caused flooding throughout the land. The animals and children searched for shelter from the rain. They found it in The Ark, where children and animals learned to live together peacefully.
Similar stories appear in many cultures, from the Babylonians to modern Christians, Jews, and Muslims. But Baltimore City’s Ark has a unique story.
The Ark is the City’s only state-accredited preschool for children whose families are experiencing homelessness. For these 3- and 4-year-olds, a day at school offers a shelter from the realities of being without a home.
Since 2012, Irvine has been offering another shelter from the storm: once a month, the children come to Irvine for what may be their first experience in nature.
In a recent visit, the youngsters had another first: meeting a hedgehog! An African pygmy hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris), to be precise. She had her own difficult start to life: a family thought she would be a fun pet, but quickly tired of her. Irvine gave her a new home.
The children were awed by this strange creature only six inches long. They learned to touch its prickly quills with “gentle hands.” They discovered that a scared hedgehog will roll up into a little ball, just like some scared children. She likes to sleep during the day and have fun at night. Some of the children thought it would be fun to be hedgehogs!
Irvine’s partnership with The Ark is funded through grants and donations. Without the support of our friends, some of these young students may never have an opportunity to run in the meadow, jump in puddles, or meet a hedgehog.
You can help support programs like The Ark field trips with a year-end gift to Irvine. Click here to make a donation. If you have already made a gift, we thank you.