Evan: Cura Personalis
Over the last five years, St. Xavier has been looking for additional opportunities to support our students in their overall health and wellness. This support includes professional development for faculty and staff and education for our students and parents. Additional changes, including the addition of our school clinician and programs such as drug testing, have all been designed to support student wellness and balance. I am excited to announce the next addition to our programming: piloting a therapy dog during the 2nd semester of the 2019-20 school year.
In partnership with Circle Tail, a not for profit organization whose mission is to provide service and hearing dogs to people with disabilities, we added Evan, a two-year-old golden retriever.
Evan has gone through extensive training to become a therapy dog. He was chosen in part because, according to Circle Tail, “He is so focused on going where there is someone in need! He has a crazy sixth sense and is incredible in his empathy for those in need. He seems to absorb what is needed from each person he interacts with!”
As part of the pilot, our school counselors have been trained as handlers for Evan. Evan is a working dog and conducts himself by a strict set of rules. While his main job is to support students who may be struggling in and around our counselors’ offices, he will also work with our entire school community. He will spend most of his time comforting and assisting students in School Counseling and Educational Services. Evan will always be supervised by a trained handler and will not approach members of the community unless he is instructed to do so.
What are the benefits of having a school therapy dog?
- Reducing anxiety and stress and providing unconditional acceptance are among a therapy dog’s most important benefits.
- A school therapy dog improves self-esteem, acceptance from others and lifts mood, often provoking laughter and fun.
- Therapy dogs help break down many of the barriers that naturally exist between people who are meeting for the first time. Students meeting with the counselors will greatly benefit from this interaction.
- Integrating trained therapy dogs into the emergency preparedness and response plans of a school when a crisis occurs is beneficial to the community.
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