I went to the dogs when I retired . . . yep, literally and intentionally.
When Wendi and I started visiting a second grade learning support classroom with Wendi’s therapy dog Wes eight years ago, we had absolutely NO IDEA the impact that a therapy dog in a classroom would have. Word spread within the school, and principals began talking among themselves. Newspaper coverage sparked the interest of several therapy dog teams in the area, and before we knew it, we started year two with five dogs in five classrooms.
Word continued to spread, our services mushroomed, and our vision changed when we saw the miraculous impact our dogs were having upon students with disabilities and social, emotional, and learning challenges. Now, as we approach year nine of providing therapy dogs to five school districts and four private schools in our area, funding has become a serious challenge.
Being a 501c3 non-profit and incorporated in the state of Pennsylvania, we have hit a stone wall. We compete with thousands of other non-profits who also struggle with financial support and have their hands extended for help. What’s the difference? Education!
Being mandatory, education is a critical part of the life of a child. Unfortunately, not all children have the capacity for learning. They struggle with a myriad of challenges ranging from dyslexia to physical disabilities to dysfunctional social tendencies to emotional issues that get in the way of achieving academically. These struggles take the joy out of learning which just adds another hurdle in the educational process.
Put a dog into the equation, and things immediately turn around. When a dog steps through the door of a classroom, the teacher acquires a miraculous teaching tool with unlimited potential to touch that small part of a student’s psyche that sets up the amazing ability to succeed.
Comments like “Oh, that’s cute,” “That’s a great idea,” and “The dogs are so sweet,” are really difficult to swallow. It’s prevalent in our society today that people cannot see below the surface and understand the REAL reason dogs are in the classroom and WHY they are so magical in triggering such positive results. It’s part of the apathy so prevalent today that no longer puts a premium on education and teaching children to THINK cognitively and develop a lifelong joy and love for learning.
So many Go Fund Me campaigns are for personal things – legal issues, medical expenses, living expenses, etc. They are important too, and I have contributed to many of those campaigns, but the Nor’wester Readers’ campaign targets thousands of children who will become our future.
You are not only making a donation to the Nor’wester Readers organization. You are making a contribution to OUR FUTURE. Yes, you are making a difference!!PLEASE consider making a difference now with a contribution to our Go Fund Me campaign.
PHOTO: My Hannah with one of her 2nd grade reading buddies who is really “relaxing” with a good book.