Yarra Primary was thrilled to welcome Roz and ‘Rafa the Labradoodle’ from ‘Live With Zest’ who performed a special role on our first day of school. The first morning of prep can be an exciting, but also an anxious moment for both students and parents who are experiencing a major developmental milestone in their lives. To support the smooth transition of students on their first day, as well as reduce the potential for separation anxiety, the school sought the services of Roz and her wellbeing trained support dog ‘Rafa’. Roz and Rafa were present during the first morning in the classroom and offered a calming opportunity to students to make a positive start to the new school year. Throughout the day ‘Rafa’ spent time with individual students, visited the Year 3/4 classrooms and met with our new prep parents as they enjoyed a relaxing coffee after dropping their child off at school for the first time. The presence of the ‘Live With Zest’ at our school is designed to align with Yarra Primary’s goal of giving all students the opportunity to thrive both academically and socially at school. It is hoped that we can invite Roz and Rafa back to our school at key stages to support students with potentially stressful events in with the aim of continuing our dedicated to the wellbeing of students.
From the ‘Live With Zest’ website:
Canine-Assisted Education (CAE) is an Animal-Assisted Intervention (AAI) where the dog’s role is to follow the directions of the handler/educator to engage with the client in order to achieve the educational intervention goals (Jones, Rice & Cotton, 2018). Roz’s practice is informed by Lead the Way Institute’s Neurobiological Model of Animal-Assisted Therapy. Jones et al., (2018) describe that “…the presence of a friendly dog (provided the individual likes dogs), can improve engagement and rapport, and reduce anxious arousal. For example, interaction with a therapy dog may reduce the impact of social exclusion on mental well-being…and anxiety associated with stressful situations.” (p. 196).