UBC Okanagan is bringing man’s best friend into the classroom in order to teach children confidence and life-long skills for success.
UBC Okanagan’s Building Academic Retention through K9s BARK program has been mentoring 22 children between the ages of five and 12. The six-week program called “Building Confidence through K9s” is supported by Telus Thompson Okanagan Community Board.
The initiative of the program is to build the children’s leadership and social skills.
Though the program is only in the pilot stage, there is hope for expansion regionally and nationally.
Students at a critical stage in social development are encouraged to participate in a series of skill-building sessions that have been developed by the faculty. BARK director, John-Tyler Binfet, believes this is a great opportunity to leverage the effects of animal therapy.
“This particular time in a child’s life is critical to establishing empathy, leadership, and social skills,” said Binfet. “The presence of a therapy dog will ensure youth who may require additional support in building this skill-set are suppoted emotionally and socially.”
Binfet strongly believes that the presence of the animals positively affects the children’s wellbeing.
“The best part of the program is witnessing the children’s excitement,” said Paula Buchanan, program leader for the Okanagan Boys and Girls Club. “The children are building confidence right before our eyes.”
The program is offered in partnership with the Telus Thompson Okanagan Community Board Fund.
“Many of us have been experienced firsthand the calming, positive benefits of being in the company of a furry friend,” said Steve Jenkins, TELUS general manager for the Okanagan and vice-chair of the TELUS Thompson Okanagan Community Board.
Binfet believes the program is a clear example of how communities can work together to help young people.
To stay updated on BARK visit http://bark.sites.olt.ubc.ca/.