Making good decisions is the theme of this educational and fun program, K9sPLUSKIDS which matches eight to ten middle school-age students together with an equal number of trained therapy dog/handler teams. Typical programs are run in a classroom setting for a one-hour session, once a week for five weeks.
This powerful program builds students’ confidence, enabling them to participate in group discussions about real-life issues, such as friendship, self-esteem and bullying.
The objectives of the program are to build students’ self-esteem, self-advocacy, communication skills and encourage them to make positive choices throughout their lives. The informal atmosphere created by the dogs’ unconditional love and acceptance, encourages most students to overcome their inhibitions, enabling them to actively participate. Each program is planned around the specific needs of the group. The primary focus is on making good decisions.
There have been heartwarming improvements such as hearing the voice of a child who had previously refused to speak; to witnessing a young man rise out of his wheelchair so that he could “walk” the dog he was working with that week. These are just some examples of how one child’s life can be dramatically changed by the love and help of a dog.
A student at Blythedale Children’s Hospital in Valhalla, was quoted as saying, K9sPLUSKIDS helped her to connect with dogs, become a better problem solver, and gave her a chance to reflect on how she would better handle situations in the future. Another student noted how this program helped make him more aware of himself. Ultimately, K9sPLUSKIDS strengthened and empowered the students to work towards overcoming multiple physical and medical obstacles through the development of empathy, patience, and perseverance.
Other venues include: Eagle Hill School, Greenwich, Ct.; H.C.Crittenden Middle School, Armonk, N.Y.; East Norwalk Library, East Norwalk, Ct., Winston Prep School, Norwalk, Ct.
There is no fee for this program, however, as a 501 (c) (3), K9sPLUSKIDS will gratefully accept donations and grants, enabling them to reach out and touch the lives of more children who would benefit from this program. For more, K9sPLUSKIDS.org