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Finding his happy place

Loving foster carers and his furry four-legged friends support Euan with his education.

Foster carers for eight years, David and Rowan are a pivotal part of a support system that champions ten-year-old Euan* to live his best life.

“We love spending time around kids in our family and we have friends who are foster carers, so it was a natural progression for us to become foster carers,” Rowan said.

Rowan and David have looked after Euan for the past 5 years and have seen him grow in confidence from the wary child they first met to a bright, inquisitive young boy who is loving finding out about the world around him.

“One of the first things I learned after becoming a foster carer, is that you are not in this alone. There’s a whole team of people doing their best for Euan and they are there to help us find what will work for him,” Rowan said.

That team helped connect Euan to MacKillop’s Paw Pals program, an animal assisted education program that supports students who struggle to learn in mainstream schools.

Euan attends specialist school MacKillop Education Maidstone, and when teachers learned about his love of animals, they knew he would be ideal for the Paw Pals program.

“Euan is an experiential learner, he learns best through action and doing things. Sitting all day working with books just doesn’t work for him and he had struggled to stay engaged with learning,” said Rowan.

Since he has been working with Paw Pals, we’ve seen an amazing change in him. He is so much more enthusiastic about coming to school and looks forward to the days he works with the dogs. He is definitely more connected to his work and his work with Paw Pals is well aligned to his curriculum goals.

– Rowan

“Euan is always excited to tell us about the work he does with the dogs; sometimes he teaches them new tricks, sometimes he reads to them or sometimes he can work on a project centred around one of the dogs. We also receive a detailed report from his Paw Pals support worker which gives us an incredible insight into how he is developing and what stands out is his absolute joy in working with the dogs.”

Rowan says that the benefits Euan has received from Paw Pals extend to outside of his schoolwork.

“Euan has developed great relationships with the Paw Pals education workers and he is also more confident interacting with his classmates – he is able to show them how he trained the dogs to do tricks and has earnt respect for that ability.

“The school also encourages kids to have safety plans to help them feel secure. This gives Euan strategies to respond to triggers and in Euan’s plan he can go to the Paw Pals room when he feels most anxious, it is his safe space and helps him to be calm.

“Paw Pals has been such a positive support for Euan that we’d love to see other children get that opportunity and find their happy place,” added Rowan.

Paw Pals is funded by our annual matched giving campaign, Paws4Kids. Donate before midnight Wednesday April 28 to have your donation tripled. Triple your impact.