DES MOINES, Iowa – The Boys & Girls Club of Central Iowa introduced a new therapy dog to its students.
BGCCI Chief Executive Officer Jodie Warth said the organization is using its therapy dog, Graycie, as an extra support tool.
“Some of our babes just need a little bit of extra help and sometimes it takes a very unique person to open up a child that may be closed off for one reason or another. Sometimes that person comes in the form of Graycie,” Warth said.
Graycie is a 2-year-old Great Dane that is owned by a current employee.
According to UCLA Health, research shows an animal assisted therapy can provide comfort, reduce loneliness, lower anxiety and more.
“We know that this is the way to reach them. Statistically speaking, we can touch them in a way that we haven’t been able to before when we introduce having them have some access to a loving, caring animal,” Warth said.
Perkins Elementary School fourth grade student Neena Riggs-Larson said, “She made me feel a bit more calm and not focused on any other things.”
Greenwood Elementary kindergarten student Ameer Jones said, “So fluffy and I love dogs. They are the best thing ever. I wish I would have one of my own.”
Graycie will be at a variety of BGCCI locations three times a week for 45 minutes.
King Elementary fourth grade student Khanari Tillman said, “I haven’t had me a dog that nice.”
Warth said at the Burt Club, located on Drake University’s campus, will also see surprise visits from the mascot Griff.
The dog therapy program officially begins January 2020.