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How a Dog Is Changing Lives on the Playground


Health & Wellness  (tags: abuse, children, exercise, ethics, family, society, safety, protection, interesting, health, babies, AlternativeMed, americans, children, child, freedoms, family, law, rights, safety )

JL
- 434 days ago - kaboom.org
No dogs allowed? No kids allowed? When it comes to play spaces, dog owners & parents sometimes find themselves at odds. Not so at Jefferson Elementary School in Playful City USA community Missoula, Montana, where a new "barrier-free" playground includes



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JL A. (275)
Sunday July 14, 2013, 10:15 pm
How a dog is changing lives on the playground

Posted by KaBOOM! on July 2, 2013

No dogs allowed? No kids allowed? When it comes to play spaces, dog owners and parents sometimes find themselves at odds. Not so at Jefferson Elementary School in Playful City USA community Missoula, Montana, where a new “barrier-free” playground includes a space for the city’s many dogs (and their owners) to play.

But Scout doesn’t just play at Jefferson; he has a job to do. A four year-old English Lab, Scout serves as an assistant to Nancy Jo Connell, a speech-language pathologist with the Missoula County Public Schools district. Nancy Jo enlists Scout’s help to work with students to overcome communicative difficulties, autism, and emotional or physical problems, in a process known as animal-assisted therapy.

Before the new barrier-free playground was constructed, Nancy Jo and Scout had been working with students inside the classroom. Nancy Jo has since found that the new outdoor play space is expanding Scout’s therapeutic potential.

Being out on the playground, she says, allows the kids to release steam and reduce stress. It also adds a social dimension to the therapy sessions, since the children participating in therapy can invite their peers on the playground to come play with Scout.

A favorite outdoor activity is grooming Scout, which helps to increase children’s coordination and fine motor skills. For some, especially those on the autism spectrum, the pet grooming process can be calming. Other favorite play activities with Scout, including hide-and-seek and fetch, increase physical activity and motivate students to learn language commands like “fast, slow, and stop.”

In fact, one boy with autism uttered his very first words at school while playing fetch with Scout. The boy tossed the ball multiple times, watching Scout retrieve it, but after one toss, Nancy Jo gave Scout the signal to stay. Expecting the dog to get the ball, the boy finally shouted, “Go!” When he went home that night, he pointed to a copy of Clifford the Big Red Dog, and turning to his mother, said, “Puppy.”

As Scout demonstrates, dogs and kids can not only play “nice,” but dogs with the right training and disposition can actually help children with special needs reduce stress, bridge social divides, and improve their fine motor and language skills. Something as simple as a game of fetch can lead to developmental breakthroughs.

Could dogs like Scout become a fixture at other school and public playgrounds? After all, innovation doesn’t have to mean elaborate new-fangled play structures. It can simply mean opening the playground gates to something we already have.

Photo courtesy of Jefferson Early Learning Center.
 

BarbCat SunshineLady (1650)
Sunday July 14, 2013, 10:57 pm
Oh I love it! Scout is such a good boy! Thanks So Much for posting JL!!
 

JL A. (275)
Sunday July 14, 2013, 11:05 pm
You are welcome Barb. I hope this idea spreads to a lot more places for children. You cannot currently send a star to BarbKnight because you have done so within the last day.
 

Christeen Anderson (491)
Sunday July 14, 2013, 11:21 pm
This is a great idea. I hope it catches on in other places as well. Thank you.
 

JL A. (275)
Sunday July 14, 2013, 11:25 pm
You are welcome Christeen. You cannot currently send a star to Christeen because you have done so within the last day.
 

Helen Porter (40)
Monday July 15, 2013, 2:19 am
Animals serve us so lovingly when we allow it,

No whips, please!
 

Terry V. (30)
Monday July 15, 2013, 3:28 am
UNCONDITIONAL LOVE always works. Thanks!!!
 

Monica T. (294)
Monday July 15, 2013, 3:42 am
Wow... I hope other public schools and play grounds would adopt the same policy. Thanks for sharing, JL...
 

NicoleAWAY W. (631)
Monday July 15, 2013, 5:29 am
this is wonderful, thank you JL
 

Past Member (0)
Monday July 15, 2013, 5:37 am
thanks
 

Arielle S. (317)
Monday July 15, 2013, 6:15 am
Great story - dogs are so full of love, it just spills over to all those around them - this is how the world should be
 

JL A. (275)
Monday July 15, 2013, 7:54 am
You are welcome Terry, Monica, Nicole and Amy.
You cannot currently send a star to Zee or Terry or Monica or Arielle because you have done so within the last day.
 

Franck R. (52)
Monday July 15, 2013, 8:17 am
Thanks
 

Kit B. (276)
Monday July 15, 2013, 8:23 am

Such a good idea, good for children and dogs. I have often wondered why more trained dogs are not with children when playing. Not many people would dare accost a child that has a dog nearby.

We are just learning how many therapeutic ways dogs can help us. This is truly healthy for all involved.
 

JL A. (275)
Monday July 15, 2013, 8:51 am
You are welcome Franck.
You cannot currently send a star to Kit because you have done so within the last day.
 

Carol D. (109)
Monday July 15, 2013, 8:59 am
So nice to see dogs are getting a good deal for a change
 

JL A. (275)
Monday July 15, 2013, 9:13 am
You cannot currently send a star to Carol because you have done so within the last day.
 

Peggy A. (0)
Monday July 15, 2013, 11:25 am
Wonderful, thanks!
 

Carlene V. (203)
Monday July 15, 2013, 5:12 pm
What a great idea, dogs can show such unconditional love.
 

Winn Adams (192)
Monday July 15, 2013, 7:08 pm
Dogs and cats chang lives not only in the play ground but in your home as well.
 

JL A. (275)
Monday July 15, 2013, 7:19 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Winn because you have done so within the last day.
 

june t. (65)
Monday July 15, 2013, 9:58 pm
nice idea, hope it goes well.
 

JL A. (275)
Monday July 15, 2013, 10:10 pm
You cannot currently send a star to june because you have done so within the last day.
 

GGmaSheila D. (170)
Monday July 15, 2013, 10:11 pm
Noted and Thank you. This is one of those feel-good stories that a person can take with them no matter where. Still smiling and feeling good.
 

Madhu Pillai (22)
Tuesday July 16, 2013, 1:12 am
Wonderful.
 

Cheryl Morel (4)
Tuesday July 16, 2013, 1:53 am
Wonderful reading, good luck to the school and people involved, and not forgetting Scout for the good work you are doing.
 

linda newman (2930)
Tuesday July 16, 2013, 3:53 am
awesome
 

Gene Jacobson (252)
Tuesday July 16, 2013, 6:34 am
Dogs are the great equalizer in our society and we have only begun to tap the full extent of what they can really do. You can be out on a walk and meet someone leading a dog and strike up an instant conversation, that has happened to me countless both with my own dogs and with others. They bring so much to the table (and I always fed mine there, a little) literally, unconditional love and acceptance, they can bridge any gap be it emotional or physical. They give people a reason to stop and greet each other. They give children the friendship no one else will, and the protection as we saw in the story about the dog raising two children in Africa last week. But that is not the end of it. We really are learning just how much they are capable of from bomb sniffing, drug sniffing to disease sniffing, they can warn of a seizure coming, they are so therapeutic for ill children, adults and in senior living facilities. And I believe we are only touching the tip of the iceberg in their capabilities. They don't ask for raises or better food or anything at all, just to be loved. We should be so selfless. The world would be a better place if we were as good at love as are our furry friends.
 

Arielle S. (317)
Tuesday July 16, 2013, 7:55 am
From your lips to God's ears, Gene - if only people were more like dogs....
 

JL A. (275)
Tuesday July 16, 2013, 8:10 am
You are welcome GGma.
You cannot currently send a star to GGma Sheila or Gene because you have done so within the last day.
 

Beth Tatum (85)
Tuesday July 16, 2013, 1:34 pm
What a wonderful story!
 

Phil P. (92)
Tuesday July 16, 2013, 1:38 pm
Great story. How do we make it happen?
 

Sheri Schongold (6)
Tuesday July 16, 2013, 3:12 pm
Fantastic. This is just another example of how animals can help the handicapped. This should be allowed in all schools.
 

Ann Breeden (65)
Tuesday July 16, 2013, 3:47 pm
This is so wonderful. Dogs should be allowed to help in schools. Children open up to them as evidenced in this story. I love it!
 

Past Member (0)
Tuesday July 16, 2013, 5:02 pm
I wish all places were this dog and children friendly. Scout is awesome. And again, Gene nailed it. :-))
Great stories today JL. :-))
 

JL A. (275)
Tuesday July 16, 2013, 5:56 pm
Thanks Lynn.
You cannot currently send a star to Lynn because you have done so within the last day.
 

janet f. (29)
Tuesday July 16, 2013, 8:07 pm
Children with autism can form bonds with dogs that can change the way they interact with people. Every child should have some exposure to animals, and I don't mean going to a zoo.
 

Kerrie G. (135)
Wednesday July 17, 2013, 2:46 am
Noted, thanks.
 

JL A. (275)
Wednesday July 17, 2013, 7:26 am
You are welcome Kerrie.
 

Ruth S. (307)
Wednesday July 17, 2013, 4:35 pm
It should be like this everywhere.
 

JL A. (275)
Wednesday July 17, 2013, 4:46 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Ruth because you have done so within the last day.
 

Sherri G. (113)
Saturday July 20, 2013, 1:33 am
Scout what a special gift you are. TY for posting JL note.
 

JL A. (275)
Saturday July 20, 2013, 7:16 am
You are welcome Sherri.You cannot currently send a star to Sherri because you have done so within the last day.
 
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