The non-profit organization is Pet Partners of Greater Cincinnati, and their mission is to provide unconditional love, emotional support, comfort, joy, and a pleasant distraction from the everyday stresses in life by allowing their pets to interact and bond with the people they meet. This school year, that includes interacting with students within the Indian Hill School District.
“Studies have highlighted the numerous social-emotional benefits of engaging with a dog, and we clearly see this when our students interact with the dogs; the joy is obvious,” said School Counselor Sarah Kellett who organizes the visits for Indian Hill Elementary School (IHES).
Kellett says some teachers organize an entire class to learn alongside the therapy dogs, and this year the dogs visit once a quarter.
“Often times our students share stories about a beloved pet as their closest friend and partner in times of joy and also their greatest comfort when feeling unsure, worried, or unhappy,” said Kellett. “In addition to our classroom supports, BRAVE Room, and counseling services, we are always cognizant of ways to support our students' social and emotional needs. We felt that introducing therapy dogs to our students would be a valuable opportunity.
“While the act of petting an animal can lower a person's blood pressure and heart rate, the social-emotional benefits are equally as important. Having the comfort of an animal can reduce feelings of anxiety and depression and can help a child feel connected, safe, and at ease. An animal often acts as a nonjudgmental companion that allows the children to feel calm, confident, playful, and authentically themselves.”
Photo caption: Students at Indian Hill Elementary School enjoy visits each quarter with therapy dogs through a partnership with Pet Partners of Greater Cincinnati.