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February 2017 Entry

Paws for Tales

Kristen Funk
Naperville · Illinois
Overview
What is your cause and how will it make the world kinder?

Paws for Tales animal assisted reading program provide schools with certified volunteer-dog team visits, which help children of all ages to feel more comfortable by reading aloud to a dog in a non-judgmental, supportive environment. The Paws for Tales program motivates children to improve their reading skills that can be observed as early as the first reading session with the dog. However, the program goes much deeper. The human-animal bond is very powerful as the dogs offer a wonderful combination of kindness, curiosity, and patience to the task of reading. Interaction with the dog and his unconditional love and limitless patience, is an experience that cannot be described!

How will you use the $10k?

Paws for Tales would like to purchase enough to loan each dedicated volunteer-dog team with at least 15 books to take to each visit that are all shared among teams to ensure a constant rotation of books and an endless option for the participating children.

In addition to the books, Paws for Tales provides its volunteers with a t-shirt and name badge, and their dog partner is provided with a Paws for Tales bandanna to show that he or she is a certified working dog. At each visit, the participating child always leaves with a personalized bookmark from the dog, a sticker, and a coloring sheet.

What impact do you hope to make?

In addition to providing academic support, the purpose of Paws for Tales is to provide social and emotional support for children as well. Many of the children who participate in the Paws for Tales program have not always had the best academic experiences, or they may not have not had the opportunity to really connect with someone at their school. This all changes as soon as the dog walks into a school. Students become more expressive and engaged with teachers and peers. The children participating in Paws for Tales enthusiastically come to each visit ready and wanting to read. Students begin to build self-confidence, especially in terms of their reading fluency, and most importantly, each child feels a true connection to others.

Other Details
Paws for Tales
Paws for Tales
Paws for Tales
Paws for Tales

Reading is an obligatory part of a school’s curriculum, and what Paws for Tales does is encourage children to want to read all the while gaining confidence in doing so. Our program goes above and beyond the current curriculum by working one-on-one with each teacher and participating student in order to achieve the participating student’s goals. A future goal for Paws for Tales is to establish a partnership with the community's school district that ideally would lead the program to be implemented district-wide.

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