Animal-assisted therapies

Growing research into animal-assisted therapies has seen an increase in the implementation of therapy animals, such as dogs, in the educational setting. This Year in our Primary school we not only welcomed 35 new students but we have adopted a wonderful dog and 2 rabbits.

In past few years Bialik has em’barked’ (excuse the pun) on 2 such programs namely ‘Dogs for Life’, a weekly program aimed at assisting our younger students to understand their social world through their relationship with the dogs and, over the past 12 months, Bialik College in association with Dogs For Life and La Trobe University, trained 3 dogs destined to go to returned service personnel in need of a therapy dog.

With these remarkably successful programs in place, Bialik students and staff have continued to experience the incredible benefits of animal therapy and have now adopted a permanent pooch into our Primary school.

Ryley is of the Lagotto Romagnolo breed. She is a past graduate of the Dogs for Life Program and is proudly owned by the Furman family (Teacher Emma – 4B). During the school day Ryley lives in our Primary school giving love and comfort to those who need a pat, a cuddle or a circuit breaker. She is part of our teaching team, assisting our students to develop responsibility, empathy and risk taking.

Ryley along with our 2 new rabbits, Blossom and Lilac, and our 6 friendly chickens are such welcome additions to our school and simply bring unconditional love to all.

Interacting with a friendly pet can help many physical and anxiety related issues. It can help reduce blood pressure and improve overall cardiovascular health. Pets can also release endorphins that produce a calming effect. This can help alleviate pain, reduce stress and improve your overall psychological state.

The presence of pets in a school setting has also been linked to improvements in school attendance, student confidence levels and increased motivation to participate in learning activities. Research tells us that pets can dramatically increase positive mood, ease social isolation and help children learn social skills and help young readers gain confidence.

So, next time on campus, come and meet our newest members of our ever growing community.

Karen Friede
Head of Primary School

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