STORY DOGS TURNS 9

Ini­tia­tive with furry friends help­ing kids turns nine

Dalby Herald - - FRONT PAGE - Me­gan Masters

WHEN Jac­que­line Jenk­in­son saw the dif­fer­ence an adorable dog could make to a child’s read­ing skills, she knew it was an idea she’d love to see in action here in Dalby.

Mrs Jenk­in­son is the teacher li­brar­ian at Our Lady of the South­ern Cross Col­lege and went to South­ern Cal­i­for­nia in the United States on an in­tern­ship a few years back.

While there she came across Story Dogs, an ini­tia­tive that aims to help young­sters de­velop con­fi­dence in their read­ing by of­fer­ing a furry au­di­ence that lis­tens well, doesn’t in­ter­rupt and doesn’t cor­rect.

When she re­turned home, she looked around for some­thing sim­i­lar in Dalby, but the clos­est chap­ter of Story Dogs was on the Sun­shine Coast.

So when she got a call from lo­cal Lyn Clancy, who was think­ing about hav­ing her dog Sam trained to be­come a Story Dog, she jumped at the chance.

By April last year, Lyn and Sam were all trained up and qual­i­fied to start and since then Mrs Jenk­in­son has had the joy of watch­ing her young charges im­prove their read­ing skills and con­fi­dence, not to men­tion their en­thu­si­asm for read­ing in gen­eral.

This year, Story Dogs is cel­e­brat­ing nine years in Aus­tralia and help­ing some 2000 chil­dren learn to love read­ing.

Story Dogs is now in 200 schools and has 400 dog teams.

Dalby is for­tu­nate to have three teams.

Story Dogs man­ag­ing di­rec­tor and co-founder Ja­nine Sigley said the pro­gram was fast grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity.

“It is your aver­age calm, gen­tle fam­ily pet that makes a great Story Dog,” says Ms Sigley.

“The best part about the pro­gram is that it is a win/win sit­u­a­tion for all in­volved.

“The dogs love the at­ten­tion, the kids love the dogs, the vol­un­teers get enor­mous sat­is­fac­tion in see­ing the chil­dren grow into be­ing bet­ter read­ers and teach­ers love the ex­tra help for their strug­gling read­ers.”

If you would like to help fund more dog teams to help more chil­dren learn to read, visit the web­site www.sto­ry­dogs.org.au.

If you would like to be­come a vol­un­teer dog team, see the in­for­ma­tion pack, also on the web­site www.sto­ry­dogs .org.au/how-to-vol­un­teer.

PHOTO: SAM FLANA­GAN

READY TO READ: Jake Grif­fiths and J.J. Green­away, from OLSCC, with story dog Sammy.

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