Students Get Therapy Dog with Fund a Need Match

Santa Fe Trail Middle School and Washington Elementary School Social Worker Jennifer Slaven would like to provide students at her schools with emotional support through the addition of a therapy dog. Therapy dogs are not a new concept. Research over the past 10 years shows that therapy dogs can have a variety of benefits to students and teachers.

UPDATE: Thanks to generous donations and the MUFFIN Fund match, this Fund-a-Need is fully-funded. Visit the OPSF website later this year for updates.

“Santa Fe Trail and Washington Elementary have many students in need of additional therapeutic support,” said Slaven. “Many students are struggling with depression, anxiety, or a variety of other situations. A therapy dog can help students achieve emotional regulation using a variety of unique strategies and tools.”

Santa Fe Trail Middle School houses the District’s Trauma Informed Care/Emotionally Disturbed Program due to the rise in students struggling with mental illness, self-control and self-regulation and previous history of trauma.

A local group known as the MUFFIN Fund (Mothers United for Families in Need) has offered to match donations to this Fund-a-Need up to $1,000. This generous donation will help Santa Fe Trail Middle School and Washington Elementary achieve their goal faster. The MUFFIN Fund is a group of parents with connections to Santa Fe Trail and Olathe North High School. The group works to support students and teachers.

“We have so many students in Santa Fe Trail Middle School and Washington Elementary School who come from varied and diverse situations that have anxiety and behavioral issues related to social interactions contributing to poor achievement in school despite their innate potential,” said MUFFIN member Manjari Srivastava.

Research has shown therapy dogs can reduce stress and provide a sense of connection in difficult situations. A recent report highlighted children working with therapy dogs experienced increased motivation for learning, resulting in improved outcomes.

Therapy dogs are being used to support children with social and emotional learning needs, which in turn can assist with literacy development.

Donate Now

According to the Alliance of Therapy Dogs, therapy dogs in schools is showing a range of benefits including:

Physical benefits. Interaction with therapy dogs has been shown to reduce blood pressure, provide physical stimulation and assist with pain management.

Social benefits. A visiting therapy dog promotes greater self-esteem and focused interaction with other students and teachers.

Cognitive benefits. It has been empirically proven that therapy dogs stimulate memory and problem-solving skills.

Emotional and mental health benefits. A recent national survey of adolescent mental health found that about 8 to 10 percent of teens ages 13 to 18 have an anxiety disorderA therapy dog can lift moods in the classroom, often provoking laughter. The therapy dog is also there to offer friendship and a shoulder to lean on for students.

Use this link to help Santa Fe Trail Middle School and Washington Elementary adopt and train a therapy dog for their schools. Use the match code “MUFFIN Fund Match” to maximize your donation with a matching donation from the MUFFIN Fund.

Sources: Alliance of Therapy Dogs; and The Conversation US