PARSONS, Kans. — Students in the Parsons School District have an extra resource to provide support and comfort.
For the past six years the district has had a therapy dog inside just one of its schools. Now every school in the district has a certified therapy dog.
“I tell the kids he’s here for you guys. When you guys are down and you’re upset and you need you just need to pitch someone. You just need to hug someone. And he gets plenty of hugs and kisses,” said Jo Rae.
Administrators say the dogs are a benefit for the schools in ways such as reducing negative behavior in the students, as well as dealing with stress
“It helps with students anxiety as they come into the room with just managing things at home and coming to school in a brand new class. But also when something is tough and they feel stressed out, they can come pet Sofia and there chill,” said Wendy Vaughn.
“I feel It’s very important for those kids, especially those kids that are having those behavioral issues, just that extra support for them,” said Robyn Thomas.
“He’s been requested before to go there like the in-school suspension room. If kids are upset, sometimes they walks in and it diverts their attention from whatever they’re upset about,” said Friess.
According to TherapyDogs.com, studies show that the very presence of having a dog in an educational environment tends to improve the areas of attention, concentration, relaxation, and motivation as well as improving reading skills.
“She’ll help with different math activities. Also read with kids and listen to them read. I’ve had a few kids that are struggling readers and they’re hesitant to read, but reading with her, they become so confident and you see the bright smile on their face and they’re so excited,” said Vaughn.
The connection between the therapy dogs and the students are indescribable.
“Have I not seen it for myself? I wouldn’t have realized what a great impact he has here at school and walk down the hall and the kids will speak to him before they speak to me,” said Friess.
“I just think there are an extra support that we can provide in the school for our kids and extra support someone else to love on someone that they can, you know, to interact with that’s not, you know, demanding anything from them or not expecting anything from them except the love,” said Thomas
“You can sit down and talk to a kid a lot and try to calm them down. But when they see that animal and they see that dog, they can relate to it better because the dog won’t judge them. They won’t try to talk a lot to him. A dog’s just there and the kid can just,” said Rae.