Non-Profit Uses Dogs To Help Under-Served Students Learn Empathy
Audrey Hendler was recently named as "New Yorker of The Week" by NY1, for her philanthropic work with under-served children. Her mission is to foster empathy, self-esteem, responsibility and more invaluable traits through her non-profit organization, A Fair Shake.
After Hendler volunteered with a dog program at a prison, she witnessed first-hand the incredible affect a dog can have on a person's mood. "It was amazing, the impact that the dogs had on the inmates, in terms of their self-esteem," she told NY1. "It transformed inmates, and at the same time, it transformed me." Hendler noticed that part of what improved the inmates' dispositions was that the interactions with dogs made them feel like "someone trusted them with something."
Deeply moved by what she saw, Hendler was spurred to use the same practice to make a difference in the lives of children who have been dealt a difficult hand. Like classroom assistants, the dogs help Hendler teach the students that they are capable of caring for a living being and that they have the power, even as students, to teach.
On Hendler's page, she cites research done by the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinarian Medicine that dogs are "objects of profound attachment," and that being with a dog reduces anxiety. Not to mention, the trusting, non-judgmental nature of dogs provides kids with an invaluable opportunity to gauge appropriate behavior since dogs give immediate, honest feedback.
"There's so much that we can learn from them. They help us live in the moment," Hendler said. [I think it helps you] look at the world in a different way."
Click here to read the full story by NY1 and why Hendler was named New Yorker of the Week.