A hero’s welcome for support school pup

THE Southern Support School in Howrah welcomed a very special friend into its community recently as part of its innovative new program, “The Hero Project”.

“Hero”, a 13-week-old German short haired pointer, will be joining a class of 14 and 15-year-olds who will be in charge of looking after and training their new furry schoolmate.

Overseen by teacher’s assistant Wendy Meek, who is a qualified dog trainer, Hero will be present at the school most days and will help to enhance students’ learning.

“Students will learn to be Hero’s hero,” school association deputy chair Ron Franks said.

“Hero will be actively involved in class activities and will spend most of her time with the students.

“She will be close to the students and encourage them to participate in activities in the classroom and around the school.”

Southern Support School is a special school for children with severe and multiple disabilities in southern Tasmania.

As a new “student”, part of Hero’s job description will be to reduce stress, reward positive learning, provide leadership opportunities and help with language development, both verbally and through signs.

Mr Franks said the school association was excited to offer this opportunity to its students.

He said Hero had been welcomed with “open arms”.

“We see the Hero Project as way of enriching lives by bringing people, canines and the community together,” he said.

“Hero is forming strong bonds with the students and is already showing to be a calming influence and an important member of the school family.

“Through direct contact, social media and regular conversation, many people can share in the unconditional love that Hero brings.”

The association will be monitoring Hero’s progress and transition into the school environment during the pilot project, which will be rolled out over the next 12-months.

To follow Hero’s journey, visit http://southernsupportschool.org.au/heroblog, go to the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/SouthernHeroK9 or follow on Instagram using the hashtag #southernherok9.