Griggsville-Perry schools on waitlist for therapy dog ​​to improve student mental health

GRIGGSVILLE — The Griggsville-Perry School District has added its name to a long list of schools looking for a therapy dog ​​to help boost the mental health of its students.

Guidance counselor Michelle Gates said the district is looking to get the dog to help improve the school atmosphere and student stress levels.

“I’ve seen a lot of kids and even adults light up when they see a dog,” Gates said. “We can help improve the mood if we have a therapy dog.”

Using a therapy dog ​​during counseling sessions or if a student is having a bad day can help a student calm down or manage their emotions, Gates said.

In addition to the emotional impacts, Gates said a therapy dog ​​can also help academically. For example, Gates said that having a student with a speech impediment or a reading problem can help the student by having him read to the dog.

“It can help because the dog is just there and not judgmental,” Gates said.

Gates said he also showed a turnout advantage.

“Studies have shown that having a dog around in the morning helps reduce lateness,” Gates said. “If the students know the dog will only be there from this time to this time, they will be on time because they want to make sure they see the dog.”

Gates said she has attended several therapy dog ​​workshops and is excited to share the benefits with the district.

Once the dog is received, Gates will be trained as a dog handler and take care of the dog.

“I am the dog [fan] in the district,” Gates said. “We thought it would be a good choice.

Gates said the 708 Mental Health Board set aside funding for each school district in Pike County to purchase a dog and she applied for the grant.

Although it’s not official, Gates said he was told the district would receive the money for the dog.

Cares Inc. in Kansas has an approximately two-year waiting list for its therapy dogs. Gates said the organization has seen an increase in requests for dogs since the pandemic began.

“We hope the wait time will decrease,” Gates said.

Gates said she would look to spread the benefits of the therapy dog ​​during the summer months.

“When we’re not in session, I hope to go to nursing homes or hospitals,” Gates said. “We want to do anything to help the community which will also keep the dog fresh in his training.”

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