Students Share Stories with Therapy Dogs
Charles M. Schultz, the creator of the much-loved comic strip ‘Peanuts’, is credited with saying, “Happiness is a warm puppy.” Anyone who has witnessed the mutual delight of dogs and children interacting with each other might find it hard to disagree.
The interaction of a child and a dog may have additional benefits besides providing a large emotional boost. Research indicates a drop in stress hormones and an increase in healthful ones, behavioral improvement, and modeling of positive relationships may all be benefits provided by Animal Assisted Therapy.
A fantastic example of this can be seen with the Read to the Dog program, provided by Rainbow Animal Assisted Therapy, the largest animal assisted therapy program in the Chicagoland area.
Studies have shown a 12% increase in fluency, increases in motivation and engagement, improved mood, and decreases in anxiety and blood pressure among children who participate in similar programs.
Read to the Dog was brought to CCSD59 by Lynne Donald, an Educational Life Skills Teacher at Grove Junior High. Mrs. Donald herself owned a certified therapy dog and thought ELS students at CCSD59 would benefit from the program.
Twice a month, twenty CCSD59 students read to dogs from Animal Assisted Therapy. Most students who attend the sessions are from the education life skills (ELS) and english language learners (ELL) programs at Grove. Those who participate in the program have shown great enthusiasm and enjoy sharing their experiences with other classmates and teachers.
John Harrington, principal of Grove Junior High, said about the program, “Mrs. Donald provided a well thought out plan with clear rationale for her ideas, so it just made good sense to implement it. I wholeheartedly support this kind of innovative and creative thinking that allows us to better serve our students’ needs.”