This year’s Paws4Kids fundraising campaign raised more than $285,000 to support the program. Paw Pals uses therapy dogs to reengage students, who find it difficult to attend school, with education. The barriers impacting their learning journey can include anxiety, learning difficulties, trauma or a social emotional disability. These challenges make it difficult for some students to be in the classroom.
Since established by MacKillop in 2018, the Paw Pals program has helped more than 650 children and young people across Victoria.
Among those who have benefited from the program is 12-year-old Amber, who has autism and a sensory processing disorder.
Amber struggled to cope at school, however, with the help of therapy dog, Lucy, she has developed confidence and has returned to the classroom.
Amber told us, “Lucy really helps me learn strategies on how to stay calm. She makes it a lot easier”.
As part of the fundraising efforts, several generous supporters, including the Petspiration Foundation (formerly PETstock Assist) matched donations from our donors.
The result of this year’s Paws4Kids campaign will enable the Paw Pals team to support even more students across Melbourne, Geelong, and Ballarat.
Anne Henderson, Group Director of The MacKillop Institute and MacKillop Education, said through community support, Paw Pals facilitators and therapy dogs will be able to reach more than 200 students in the year ahead.
“With school refusal and mental health concerns on the rise, the need for the program has never been greater. We are so grateful for the support we received during the Paws4Kids campaign – and continue to receive – so we can help more students to stay connected with education.”
Thank you to everyone who dug deep to support children and young people in need. For more on the Paw Pals program, please visit https://www.mackillop.org.au/programs/paw-pals.