MacKillop Family Services' innovative education therapy dog program – Paw Pals – is helping children struggling at school to better manage their social and emotional behaviour and reconnect with their education.
For close to a year, 11-year-old Amber was unable to go to school; she could not even walk through the school gates. Everything Amber’s mum, Peta, and her teachers tried to engage her in her learning failed until Peta heard about the Paw Pals program.
Amber has an autism diagnosis and lives with a sensory processing disorder which means that a typical school environment caused her sensory overload and triggered severe anxiety. After a short time working with Paw Pals, Amber was able to go back into the classroom when she was accompanied by one of the therapy dogs.
The program has been operating for four years and has had such a positive impact on the lives of the children and young people it works with, that demand for assistance from therapy dogs far exceeds the capacity of the program.
With the support of the community, MacKillop has been able to grow the Paw Pals program across Melbourne and introduce it to Geelong.
Today, MacKillop is running Paws4Kids, a campaign which will see every dollar donated automatically tripled thanks to supporters like PETstock Assist, PETstock’s charity foundation, and other matching partners. The goal is to raise $330,000, which will allow MacKillop to continue their Paw Pals program and expand it to Ballarat.
‘Pawsitive’ support for kids who struggle with learning (MacKillop Family Services)