Therapy Animals in Schools

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Paws-ing for Peace initiative

 

Hello, My name is Katie, I’m 16 yrs old and I am a junior in high school. 

I come before you to present an idea and a petition. I would like to petition that the schools have Trained Therapy Animals such as dogs, cats or even rabbits, available to students on school campuses.  

With recent growing mental health concerns, depression, suicides and shootings among our schools, I feel we need to take a more proactive approach to addressing these concerns.  We, as teens and students keep trying to speak up and raise our voices to bring awareness but no one seems to be listening! So I come before you today to speak on behalf of the many countless kids that are crying for help! 

Why therapy animals?

I started an Animal Rescue Club (Verdugo Hills ARC) at my school towards the end of my sophmore year. What began as a small club of only a handful of students, has now grown to 50+ students and growing! They saw how I volunteered at the local animal shelters and how rewarding it is to interact with these wonderful creatures, and wanted to do the same! However, most animal shelters won't allow minors to volunteer without an adult present, and most adults simply don't have the time or resources available to be able to be with them to volunteer. Not to mention, there are many kids who have only one parent, or live in foster homes where there's an even lesser chance of allowing kids to have this God given right to interact with these beautiful creatures. 

Therapy animals such as dogs, cats and even rabbits can be of great comfort to kids who are struggling with depression, stress, and anxiety.

According to a research study done by the UCLA Health, School of Medicine, named “Animal Assisted Therapy Research”; found that animal assisted therapy was beneficial not only for mental health but for physical health as well!  https://www.uclahealth.org/pac/animal-assisted-therapy

Studies have shown that by simply petting an animal, it releases the feel good chemicals, serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin in the brain. Studies have also shown that it increases memory function in people with head injuries. It lowers blood pressure and improves cardiovascular health. It helps slows down the breathing in those who suffer from anxiety and reduces the release of the stress hormone, cortisol. 

Several other studies have proven the many (mental and physical) health benefits that come from therapy animals. 

https://www.wkyt.com/content/news/Therapy-Dogs-in-School-Help-Students-419070294.html

Therapy animals were also used to provide comfort and support to students returning to school in the aftermath of the Florida school shooting.

Stress and Anxiety, Among Kids is at an All Time High

The stress and anxiety kids go through nowadays is off the charts. It seems to be growing more and more each day, and there seems to be no positive outlets for us. Having therapy animals, available for students, would benefit EVERYONE! Not only would it benefit our schools, it would also benefit our communities. It would help our schools by IMPROVING ATTENDANCE, raising their grades, and help the students learn in safe, secure and peaceful environment. It would help our communities because it would keep the kids IN school and OFF the streets. Keeping kids off the streets would helps reduce crime. Reducing crime creates a safer environment, now and for future generations etc..

School's Role:

I recently saw in the news that they were building a school in Michigan, to protect students from potential active shooters?! This is unheard of! We need to be different and take on a more positive and proactive approach by providing a positive outlet to our kids and teens! Let's handle the situation ahead of time, instead of reacting to it after the fact! WE NEED TO BE DIFFERENT!!

WE NEED TO BE PROACTIVE NOT REACTIVE!! . 

Let LAUSD be the first to pioneer this program, and when other schools in other districts, other states and even across the country see the benefits it has brought us, they will then implement this program in their schools as well! 

LAUSD can partner with local animal shelters since there are many that have aged animals that are rarely adopted and end up being euthanized. They can also partner with any of the many organizations availble, that provide volunteer therapy animals or even volunteer therapy training for animals. There are many ways to go about this, but please just make it possible! 

We need to take a pause for peace!! Peace in our schools, peace in our communities and peace in our nation!

Please help me in bringing awareness to this initiative and petition practical and positive approach by “PAWS-ING for PEACE”.  

 

Thank you for your time!