PetPalsNC promotes and supports the use of animal-assisted intervention (therapy and activities) for K-12 public school students to enhance academic, social, emotional, and behavioral growth.The target population is often underserved and is diverse in age, ethnicity, and race, and most of the students are challenged by physical, mental, emotional, and/or learning disabilities, as well as by economic hardship. The service is free for the schools!
PetPals currently serves 30 elementary, middle, and high schools in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro, Orange, and Durham County School Districts of North Carolina, with a growing list of schools waiting to participate as we secure additional therapy Teams (dog+handler). Our Teams are volunteers, recruited from the surrounding community, and are certified/registered/insured with one of the several, reputable animal-assisted therapy organizations.
Teams work in collaboration with the designated school liaisons who are responsible for referring students to work with a Team (either individually or in small groups), help to plan interventions, and might also direct the interventions. Weekly sessions are at least one hour in duration and can continue as long as progress is being made. Depending on student needs and predetermined goals, a variety of interventions can be utilized to integrate the dog into work with students. Example: A child with anxiety learns to match her breathing to the dog's to help with calming. The dogs help in many facets of the educational processes, such as reading/literacy, play, communication, special education, physical therapy, counseling, emotional/social skill building, and classroom based teaching. Additionally, these are excellent opportunities to teach compassion and sensitivity toward dogs and other animals, learn reward based dog training skills, and to teach safe and responsible behavior around animals.
For more information, please visit www.petpalsnc.org