The kids from Caroline Chisholm Catholic College in Melbourne’s Western suburbs have been busy raising funds for Paws4Kids to support a therapy dog program. Therapy dog Barney visited the school to thank students for their support on Monday 19 April.
The therapy dogs are part of MacKillop Family Services’ Paw Pals program, which helps vulnerable children who have stopped going to school or are at risk of disengaging from education.
Many of these children are in foster care or residential care and are dealing with trauma, so school and education can often be the final straw and they find it difficult to engage in learning. Working with therapy dogs can make an incredible difference and has changed the lives of many children and young people involved in the program.
To find out more about Paws4Kids, visit www.paws4kids.org.au
Vanessa would sit in the car outside her school and refuse to go in. Her grandmother, Lee, who drove her to school, knew Vanessa struggled with anxiety and that sometimes it was just too difficult for her to face classmates, teachers, or schoolwork. Often, she would sit out the front for hours, too anxious to walk through the front doors.
The day that Vanessa met Ivee the therapy dog, everything changed. Within a few weeks, Vanessa was eagerly jumping out of the car to go to school to meet with Ivee and an education outreach worker.
Vanessa’s grandmother Lee is amazed at the change in her since she started with the Paw Pals program.
“When the dog is brought over to the car, Vanessa takes one look at that wagging tail, takes the lead and off she goes into school without a backward glance. She is more confident, and she is making friends and interacting better with the other kids at school.
“This program gives children a chance to learn and heal. We feel so lucky that Vanessa has benefited from Paw Pals and want to see the program help other kids who need help to deal with the issues that affect their lives.”