Enriching the wellbeing of students through Dogs Connect
Introducing Theo from Dogs Connect at Westport Public School, making a difference to improving the well-being of students. Community is what drives Our Vision at The Westport Club. We are driven to making a significant contribution to the quality of community life and supporting others and organisations to do the same! We wanted to shine a light on an initiative born from the dedication and passion of teachers at Westport Public and supported through our Club GRANTS funding. Working collectively to create a connected and supportive community within our region.
We first met with the incredible support staff and teachers at Westport Public late last year. Right in the midst of packing up for the end of school and launching an exciting new project that is a first of its kind in our region. Theo is a very special pup who is part of the Dogs Connect program delivered at Westport Public School. This program has been years in the making, finally getting the push it needed last year to fund the program and provide essential training to not just Theo but also the group of teachers and support staff involved in the program.
What does Dogs Connect do?
Theo ultimately works to improve the well-being of students by providing emotional support to those needing a little extra help on tough days, facilitating an opportunity for connection with the students, and helping to reduce stress and anxiety. The Dogs Connect program is a world-first mental health and wellness program. Their mission is to help organisations to integrate a permanent wellbeing dog into workplaces, schools, and other community centres. Seeing the research behind people and dogs has brought their vision to life by facilitating emotional support, giving people an opportunity for connection, and reducing negative emotions. Similar to how therapy dogs operate, Dog Connect instead connects individuals with wellbeing dogs to achieve as many mental health benefits as possible.
When we were introduced to Theo first, he had just began integrating into school life at Westport Primary school late last year. Since then, we have been following along his journey and have seen firsthand the impact he has made on the school community. Each visit it is obvious how much he is adored by the students and teachers at the school. But be assured he isn’t just a sweet face! Theo works part time hours at the school, and of course gets some well-deserved break time. When actively working he moves between classrooms and delivers support where needed, often bringing a smile to anyone’s face when they see Theo walking past their door.
What makes Dogs Connect so successful?
One of the key reasons why Dogs Connect is so successful is that dogs like Theo have such a calming effect on the people the cross paths with throughout the day. These small interactions are exceptionally important for students who may be feeling stressed, anxious, or nervous during the school day for many different reasons. Bringing Theo’s presence into their space allows students to feel more relaxed and at ease, helping them ultimately to feel more comfortable and focused on their studies.
We are proud supporters of the Dogs Connect program and are thrilled to see the positive impact it is having on the students at Westport Primary School. Theo is an important part of this program, and we are excited to follow along throughout the school year and see his successes continue! As part of our Club GRANTS program, we continually strive to fulfil our vision and partner with others that support this in their community initiatives. Since 2009, The Westport Club have contributed nearly $3 million in community grants to local charities, sporting groups and organisations like Westport Public School across the Mid North Coast. A major focus of our community vision is supporting projects focused on education and literacy, enriching the minds of young people across our region. Programs like Dogs Connect are a wonderful outcome of such community drive and innovative foundations we support throughout the year. We are excited to continue sharing Theo’s story as his training develops!
Interested in learning more about our community?
For more on our community involvement, check out our previous Blogs;