First Savings Bank to Sponsor New Washington Therapy Dog for Another Year | New


New Washington Middle/High School is thrilled to announce that First Savings Bank will be sponsoring their therapy dog, Penny, for another year.

The therapy dog ​​program in New Washington began last year. As a school, they have seen a significant increase in the number of students struggling with depression, anxiety, stress and attendance, all of which affect their ability to learn. Indiana’s recent focus on social and emotional learning based on research from the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) argues that schools “infuse principles of social and emotional learning into practices and policies such as curriculum and instruction, extracurricular activities, discipline, student support services, professional learning, and ongoing assessment for continuous improvement Therapy dogs are used to support students with a number of these social and emotional learning needs.Research on the effects of therapy dogs in schools shows a range of benefits, including:

• Increased school attendance

• Gain confidence

• Decreased learner anxious behaviors leading to improved learning outcomes, such as increased reading and writing levels

• Positive changes towards learning and improved motivation, and

• Improved relationships with peers and teachers due to the trust and unconditional love of a therapy dog. This helps students learn to express their feelings and build more trusting relationships.

• Increase in test scores

The mental health impacts of the pandemic have also posed many challenges for students that therapy dogs can help. Just getting back to school, being around other students, and establishing a routine can be difficult. These challenges create even more motivation to care for students’ social and emotional health. The school has seen a decrease in test anxiety simply by having a dog visit students just before they take a test. Research shows that petting a dog releases serotonin and dopamine and reduces cortisol which can lower our heart rate and help improve your mood, and looking into a dog’s eyes releases oxytocin in our brain which is the same hormone that helps bond a mother to her newborn child. People struggling with depression have low levels of serotonin and dopamine which can be increased simply by petting a dog. Those with high levels of anxiety can lower their cortisol levels simply by having contact with a dog. They are also very good listeners who are non-judgmental and sometimes students just need to talk to them. These are all areas that create challenges for student learning.

The role of therapy dogs is to react and respond to people and their environment, under the guidance and direction of their handler. The New Washington students work with their dog trainer, Amanda Armstrong, to learn how to be dog handlers. They will also work alongside a veterinarian and groomer to learn how to care for the animals. Two work-based learning students create the dog schedule and prepare people for dog visits. They also send them to places to visit, such as their sponsor’s business or event (like First Savings Bank), the Clark County 911 call center, classrooms, after-school events, and d other schools. New Washington Middle/High School students benefit daily from the working dogs at the school and all the benefits a therapy dog ​​can bring as well as the benefits of learning specialized things such as becoming dog handlers, studying mental health, building a grooming station, learning how to run a small business, as well as the knowledge they gain working with a veterinarian and a groomer. Students also learn the difference between the types of working dogs and the certifications required. New Washington has two fully trained certified therapy dogs.

The objectives of the program are to increase the academic performance of students; meet the emotional and behavioral needs of the student; and provide service to the community by visiting local schools and businesses, creating a philanthropic mindset in students, and producing graduates who are informed, healthy, and responsible pet owners. New Washington will be proud to display the First Savings Bank logo on Penny’s vest for another year!. If your business is interested in participating in a sponsorship opportunity and impacting the social and emotional needs of people in southern Indiana, please contact Ms. Jill Sceifers, Academy Coach, 812-293-3368 ext. 19170. New Washington is very excited about this unique program!


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