Local Nonprofit to Reach More NYC Youth with Therapy Dogs through ASPCA Grant"A Fair Shake for Youth” brings therapy and rescue dogs to schools in low-income communities throughout NYC
New York, N.Y.—A Fair Shake For Youth, a nonprofit group that offers under-served middle schoolers the opportunity to work hands-on with therapy and rescue dogs, is expanding its educational program, made possible by a $10,000 grant from the ASPCA® (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®). The program helps children learn respect for animals, empathy, and self-esteem by forming relationships with the dogs and training the dogs through positive reinforcement.
Schools with programs this semester include:
- IS 218 (Inwood)
- MS 293 (Inwood)
- MS 324 (Washington Heights)
- The Young Women's Leadership School (South Bronx)
- MS 424 Hunts Point Middle School (Bronx)
- United Neighborhood Middle School (Lower East Side)
- PS 140 (Lower East Side)
- Lyons Community School (Bushwick, Brooklyn)
- Henry Street Settlement (Lower East Side)—summer camp
- Goddard Riverside Community Center (Upper West Side)—summer camp
The children in the programs interact and build relationships with various therapy and rescue dogs on a weekly basis, including seeing-eye and bomb detection dogs. Through building positive relationships with the dogs, the children learn compassion and appreciation for animals and also form social and emotional skills necessary for building relationships with animals and humans alike.
Each week, the children learn to train the dogs, starting with basic commands and building up to agility games. The training is based on positive reinforcement and praise—a skill that may be unfamiliar to some of the children. The children will also learn about animal welfare issues, such as animal homelessness, and tour The ASPCA Adoption Center on Manhattan's Upper East Side.
“The connection between some forms of animal cruelty, domestic violence, and child abuse is clear,” said Stacy Wolf, senior vice president of the ASPCA’s Anti-Cruelty Group. “Learning to care for animals and treat them with respect reduces the likelihood of cruelty and neglect and also sets the framework for positive relationships with people and the community. We hope the children will develop further respect for all living beings that they take with them far beyond the program itself.”
“The kids love the dogs and the dogs love them back,” added Audrey Hendler, president of A Fair Shake for Youth. “The children develop trust and a generosity of spirit to both the dogs and each other that they didn’t know they had."
Since 2013, the ASPCA has donated a total of $30,000 to A Fair Shake for Youth, helping the program reach over 700 children in 26 public schools throughout the New York City area. A Fair Shake for Youth partners with schools and community organizations in Manhattan, the South Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens in low-income neighborhoods. The organization has also supplied therapy dog programs for children at domestic violence shelters.