Local volunteers are being sought for an Animal Assisted Learning program in Milton-Ulladulla.
The Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D) program uses trained therapy animals to improve school aged children’s reading and communication skills allover the world.
Sharon Stewart has established the first R.E.A.D program in Australia called Paws ’n’ Tales and she is looking for local volunteers.
It is a carefully planned collaboration between reading professionals, registered and insured therapy dogs and handlers, schools and local libraries.
At its heart is the simple concept of improving a child’s literacy skills by encouraging them to read aloud to a dog and giving the dog a hug at the end.
Small scale studies show R.E.A.D programs increase reading skills, motivation, class involvement and self-confidence and decrease absenteeism.
Trained therapy dogs are a calm, non judgmental presence and immediately change the tone of any classroom they are in.
Research shows dogs can moderate stress by reducing heart rate, blood pressure and other observable signs of anxiety.
A typical one on one R.E.A.D session lasts 20 to 30 minutes.
During R.E.A.D sessions the trained therapy dog allows the child to develop reading skills and confidence in a safe non threatening environment.
The handler uses the dog to solicit interaction and participate “enthusiastically and interactively without dominating”.
R.E.A.D is able to transform reluctant or struggling readers at a crucial early learning phase.
Sharon has partnered locally with The Gus Benevolent Fund, established in honour of Gus, the loved companion dog of Jo and Alex at St Isidore’s Restaurant, to help with costs associated in the training and accreditation of two or three local therapy dogs and handlers.
Matt and Carrie at Milton Village Vet encourage interested principals, parents and volunteers to contact Sharon at Sharon.firstname.lastname@example.org or 4681 0499.
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