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Therapy dogs comfort kids on first day of school

Published: Sep. 7, 2021 at 7:04 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The first day of school can be nerve-racking, but there are some new faces in Grand Ledge elementary schools to help students start the new year.

The school district now has five therapy dogs in its elementary schools and its intermediate school.

Wacousta Elementary School secretary Sara Taylor is hosting one of the dogs named Sandee.

“We love him so much in our house, and I am really excited to share that with our kids here in the building and even the staff members. It’s been a stressful year,” said Taylor.

For some kids, this is the first time they’ve been in school because of the pandemic.

“My youngest hasn’t been in a school building for about a year and a half, and she was really nervous to come back. She popped in early today to help me bring Sandee in. That helped her, and we know it’s going to help her friends, too,” said Taylor.

The school district is working with a local organization called Canines for Change.

“Research is really plentiful about how dogs can help anybody with anxiety but kids for sure,” said Nikki Brown, Executive Director of Canines for Change. “The dogs are trained to kind of sense when the kids are needing support. So they can be emotional support. They can also be academic support.”

Tuesday was the first time most of the kids met Sandee. A few weeks ago, he and the other therapy dogs stopped by Grand Ledge’s Summer Learning Program.

“The kids got to interact with the dogs there, and kids and dogs are a really natural fit especially when you have really well-trained dogs that know how to interact with people. It’s a really powerful thing to see,” said Bill Barnes, Assistant Superintendent for Academic Services with Grand Ledge Public Schools.

In the coming months, there will be a dog in each school in the Grand Ledge school district.

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