Therapy dogs enhancing student wellbeing

Therapy dogs enhancing student wellbeing

At Carinity Education schools, an extraordinary bond has formed between students and some special classmates. Three therapy dogs – Tarmac, Maverick, and Chickpea – have been trained to provide support and comfort to students, resulting in a remarkable impact on their overall school experience.

Tarmac, a 12-month-old black Labrador, joined Carinity Education Southside in Brisbane this year. He has been trained as an assistance dog since he was eight weeks old. Deputy Principal, Lyndsey Sharp, and youth worker, Lisa Daanen, have undertaken further training to become Tarmac’s handlers, ensuring he brings continued safety and solace to the school community.

Lyndsey is a firm believer that interactions with a therapy dog can help students regulate their own emotions. “Some of our students have a history of trauma, and the physical contact, mindfulness, and social connection that our therapy dogs provide can help calm a student’s nervous system,” Lyndsey said.

Principal Leann Faint said Tarmac has had a positive impact on the school in a short time. “Tarmac has a calming effect on both staff and students. He intuitively knows when a young person needs support and will seek out those who need his attention. His enthusiasm for his job is contagious,” Leann said.

Tarmac has already had a profound impact on the school community. Susan, a Year 7 student, believes Tarmac has been “so good for our school”. “Just seeing him each day brings me joy and makes me smile. He stays in the middle of the classroom, and we all show him affection. Having him around makes me want to come to school more. He’s truly made a difference for me,” Susan said.

At Carinity Education Rockhampton, Maverick, a Tamaruke breed, has been a part of the school community for almost three years. Maverick’s ongoing training has honed his skills in providing support and unconditional acceptance to the students.

School Principal, Lyn Harland, says Maverick has had a big influence on students. “He brings a sense of comfort, encourages attendance, and serves as a cuddly companion for the children. Maverick’s non-judgmental nature fosters a positive learning environment and instils a sense of security and well-being in the students,” Lyn said.

Chickpea, a beloved Labradoodle therapy dog, has been an essential member of the Carinity Education Shalom school community in Townsville for over a year. The accredited therapy dog has captured the hearts of students and staff alike with her gentle and affectionate nature.

Toni Simmonds, Head of Primary at Carinity Education Shalom, explained that Chickpea has made an incredible impact on the school community.

“Chickpea has been such a positive addition to our school. We’ve seen firsthand the effects Chickpea has on improving attendance, engagement, and helping maintain positive relationships amongst staff and students."