Updated 11/09/2012 02:30 PM
Pet Pointers: Animals help support adult literacy
Animals are known to have a calming effect and in this edition of Pet Pointers, Lisa Chelenza explores a program helping adults to read with the assistance of pets.
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For many of us, reading is second nature. We can't recall the childhood frustration of sounding out words or not fully understanding what you have just read. Learning to read as an adult can be even more difficult and frustrating, especially without support and encouragement.
Two organizations in Central New York are now working together to provide what adults who are learning to read need to be successful. Each week, a Reading Education Assistance Dog and volunteer from Pet Partners of Syracuse heads to The Newland Center, formerly the Learning Place, to offer unconditional affection and moral support to folks taking part in their Adult Literacy Book Club.
Volunteer Sue Gilberti tells us these special dogs have a calming effect on participants.
“It's been proven that dogs can help lower your blood pressure, lower your anxiety…and it helps you focus less on how you sound when you are reading. It just relaxes you so you get the enjoyment out of reading and reading becomes enjoyable,” said Gilberti, a Pet Partners volunteer.
The day we visited, banned books were on the agenda. The topic kept the participants interested in the material and the dogs served as an attentive and non-threatening audience.
Pets have long been valued for their companionship, so it's no wonder they also make remarkably effective teaching assistants.