Griggsville-Perry CUSD 4 receives $1,600 grant from Health and Wellness Foundation of Pike County to train therapy dog

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PITTSFIELD, Ill. —The Health and Wellness Foundation of Pike County recently awarded an immediate response grant for $1,600 to Griggsville-Perry CUSD 4 to facilitate the acquisition of a therapy dog to be used in their elementary and middle schools. Grant funds will be used to cover the expenses of the necessary dog training required for certification.

In a press release, foundation executive director Patricia McIntosh said, “Griggsville-Perry’s therapy dog will serve as a staff member and positively impact the well-being of students on a daily basis. Federal data shows that since the pandemic, two-thirds of schools in the U.S. have added to their mental health services due to the increased need created by students.

“In the last several years the foundation has consciously focused the on mental and behavioral health needs of Pike County. We believe this grant enabling a therapy dog in the G-P School District will have a notably positive impact on their student’s mental health and well-being.”

Therapy dogs have been shown to:

  • decrease learner anxiety resulting in improved learning outcomes;
  • promote mental health, well-being, and effective intervention strategies within school communities;
  • help students develop social skills;
  • re-engage with onsite learning; and understand boundaries.

Michelle Gates, school counselor for grades K-8 with the G-P school district, said, “Animals, in general, are expensive and require funds to provide for their needs. Therapy dogs provide emotional support to those they come in contact with. They also can encourage reading and writing, model appropriate behavior and calm students and staff.

“I have personally seen the work of therapy dogs in local schools this school year during the untimely death of three local students. Therapy dogs were present in all situations and provided great comfort. Since therapy dogs are service dogs and are meant to work, this new dog will also be active in the summer at nursing homes, hospitals, summer camps and any other opportunities that arise.”

The Health and Wellness Foundation of Pike County is in its 20th year of funding initiatives that positively impact Pike County’s most pressing physical, mental and social health needs. It has made more than $1.5 million in grant awards during that period. Grant funding decisions are made by the board of directors Current board members are Judge Michael Roseberry, chairman; J. Michael Kinscherff, vice chairman; Darla Lemons, secretary/treasurer; and directors Michelle Westbrook, Andrea Allen and Pike County Deputy Zachary Orr.

HWFPC is a recognized 501(c)(3) public charity, solely serving the health needs of Pike County, Illinois. Donations to HWFPC are fully tax deductible as allowable by law. To find out more information about HWFPC or how to can make a financial gift, visit the foundation’s website at www.hwfpc.org.

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