Phoenix, AZ – August 17, 2017 – Gabriel’s Angels, the only non-profit organization in Arizona that delivers healing pet therapy to at-risk children, announces an innovative program expansion – Animals, Books, and Children (ABC). ABC utilizes Animal-Assisted Reading Activities to both increase literacy competencies, and work to improve the core behaviors of attachment, affiliation, confidence, empathy, respect, self-regulation, and tolerance that Gabriel’s Angels has always focused upon.
The National Institute of Child Health and Development (NICHD, part of the National Institute of Health), reports that nearly 40% of at-risk fourth graders read below basic levels. For children, reading difficulties leads to social and emotional problems, including despair, difficulties with attachment, depression, and anxiety. By incorporating activities designed to improve the aforementioned seven core behaviors, the ABC program can directly address these issues while also improving the children’s reading skills. A study by the University of California – Davis confirmed young students who read out loud to dogs improved their reading skills by 12% over the course of a 10-week program, while children in the same program who didn’t read to dogs showed no improvement. Reading to a dog can enhance self-esteem, improve vocabulary, motivate speech, increase knowledge and build confidence.
Gabriel’s Angels’ Animals, Books, and Children (ABC) program will service schools that serve at-risk children and provide literacy testing. School staff will identify children that would most benefit from individual reading practice in a safe and non-judgmental environment. Pet therapy teams will visit the school weekly, seeing children individually during a one-hour session – focusing on improving reading skills, comprehension, and speed, as well as developing core social behaviors. The series will have a 12-16 week duration. During each session, the individual child will have time to feel comfortable, work directly on reading skills, and engage in a fun behavioral development activities. Each series concludes with a celebration and certificate ceremony. Pet therapy teams will administer the San Diego Quick Assessment and all schools will be required to provide state or district pre and post reading test scores so that Gabriel’s Angels can assess program efficacy.
Initial feedback from early participants has been positive:
“Gabriel’s Angels ABC program is incredibly beneficial to our students. Our students made significant progress that data and observation reflect. The best part for me, as the instructional coach, was to see the joy in kids who normally have a negative view on reading. Best of all, they began to enjoy reading. I highly recommend this program!”
Reading Interventionist, Mesa Center for Success