Parent Teacher Magazine Union County Public Schools March/April 2018 - Page 11

Therapy dogs bring calm and comfort to UCPS classrooms Guinness, a Greater Swiss nearly five years. Although Mountain therapy dog, could she and Guinness volunteer easily be described as a gentle giant. regularly at the Levine As he walked down the Children’s Hospital in halls of Rea View Elementary Charlotte, Niki said that with with his owner and trainer Niki the administrative guidelines in McKernan, students, teachers and place, she is excited to see the administrators could barely pass impact that other therapy dogs up the opportunity to pet and hug will have on all UCPS students. him, and he happily welcomed “If someone who has a their affectionate embraces. therapy dog is available for Within seconds of walking say, an hour every week, into Erika Eichorn’s exceptional that’s what is really beneficial children’s class, the calming and will help the students presence that Niki and Guinness because they’re reading on a brought with them was nearly regular basis and look forward instantaneous – so much so that to it,” she said. “And when Erika had difficulty even putting it reading is related to a positive into words. experience for a child, the “Every time he comes into our child will grow up learning to room, the level of anxiety among be a better reader and a better my students instantly disappears,” student because they have she said. “He just brings a that confidence.” different element in the room. If If there was one thing you haven’t experienced that, it’s With administrative guidelines for non-service animals now in place, that people should know all Union County Public Schools students have the opportunity to really hard to explain.” about having a therapy dog, gain the physical, social, cognitive, emotional and mental health Therapy dogs, like Guinness, Erika said, it’s that they are benefits that therapy dogs provide in a classroom setting. are widely regarded as an beneficial in any classroom. and it’s amazing to see what they can do.” inexpensive way to assist students “Therapy dogs really In Erika’s class, Guinness sits with in focusing on their education while bring something different to the class students during reading time. When her providing a comforting presence. Their environment,” she said. “So if anyone benefits are far-reaching, and they provide students bring Willow, another therapy has an opportunity to have one of these dog that visits their class, with them to the a calm listening ear to students. therapy animals – because they don’t have playground, they’re able to interact with And with administrative guidelines for to be a dog – come into their classroom, non-service animals now in place, all Union other students who want to pet and hug her. they need to jump on it. Because, for me, “Therapy dogs have been a really good County Public Schools students have the it’s always positive. Always.” bridge within the school,” she said, adding opportunity to gain the physical, social, For more information about therapy that they work with several organizations cognitive, emotional and mental health dogs, please visit Therapy Dogs that bring therapy dogs to their classroom. International or contact Niki McKernan at benefits that therapy dogs provide in a Niki, who for years advocated for classroom setting. nmckernan@carolina.rr.com. “They communicate with these students guidelines that allow therapy dogs in –This article was provided by the Union UCPS classrooms, said she’s been bringing so well and they put everyone at ease,” County Public Schools Communication Office. Erika said. “These dogs are so well-trained, Guinness to visit Erika’s classroom for EXCITING NEWS! We’re proud to announce that we’ve got access to many more pet foods and accessories. New products available include... • Fromm • Victor • Nutri Source • Pure Vita • Taste of the Wild • Diamond Dogs Treats: Buddy Biscuits • Bocce’s Bakery • Benebones Cat Litter: Boxie Cat and Dr. Elsey’s Call or stop Dog & Cat Toys & Much, Much More... in for details. Weddington Mineral Springs Fertilizer, Inc. Reading, Math, Writing, Exam Prep & Subject Tutoring taught by Certified Teachers In The Heart of Mineral Springs Since 1957 704-243-5782 ...Way More than JUST Fertilizer! 704.843.2683 DON’T WAIT ~ CALL NOW! www.huntingtonhelps.com/center/weddington Parent Teacher Magazine • Mar/Apr 2018 • 9