Schooled by a dog -- from wounded shelter pooch to school hero | Judy Winter | TEDxLansingED by TEDx Talks   6 years ago

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In 2009, I adopted a wounded, year-old shelter pooch, spent eight months rehabilitating Jack, and took tests required to become a certified therapy dog/handler through Therapy Dogs International (TDI). We first got our paws/hands wet volunteering at a children's grief center, visiting hospitals and at a summer camp for those with exceptionalities.

We then approached DeWitt's Schavey Road Elementary and proposed working with their 1st/2nd graders. They agreed. We began volunteering directly with the school's counselor, part of the school's Positive Behavior Support effort.

Jack's everyone's dog and provides emotional support. He spends valuable one-on-one time weekly with students most in need. We model lessons about overcoming odds, celebrating diversity (Jack has no tail) and friendship, helping to counter bullying. "Jack's Rules for School Cool" hang throughout the building. He's a motivator and soft place for kids to fall during tough moments. He makes school fun. When words/adults fail, Jack gets the job done.Our first school year was so successful, we were asked back for a second and took on the 3rd/4th grade building, too. We're now in our third year and have added the kindergarten center, with requests to visit the high school.

Judy Winter is an award-winning writer, national speaker, advocate and the author of "Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations." She is the recipient of the 2007 Outstanding Alumni Award from the College of Communication Arts & Sciences at Michigan State University. Judy is co-founder of the Eric "RicStar" Winter Music Therapy Summer Camp at MSU.

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