KITES Children’s Therapy, based in Bellerive, is the first service in Tasmania to offer dog-assisted therapy to help children and young people living with a range of disabilities.
Three-year-old black Labrador Grady is the newest recruit at Kites Children’s Therapy.
Dog-assisted therapy uses highly trained Labradors like Grady to deliver creative ways for children to achieve their therapy goals.
“Children of all ages with a range of disabilities can benefit from dog-assisted therapy,” Kites Children’s Therapy Tasmania program manger Tennille Burns said.
“Dog-assisted therapy can be helpful to children who have difficulty engaging with traditional therapy approaches.
“At Kites, Grady will team up with an occupational therapist to deliver therapy in a fun and engaging way that meets the client’s therapy goals.
“This can include motivating children to engage in the practice of skills, physical tasks such as completing an obstacle course, developing social skills, self-care skills, play and language skills.”
Grady has undergone intensive training with Guide Dog Services Tasmania program manager Kim Ryan to learn how to become a therapy dog.
“Grady is a perfect fit for the role,” Ms Ryan said.
“His affectionate nature and love of children keep him engaged in sessions.
“Watching him learn the skills in training, then introducing children to the sessions, has been a delight to see.
“Grady encourages children to take turns, to maintain eye contact and follow instructions.
“It is so rewarding to see the positive affect that he has on children.
“I’ve seen a child go from being unmotivated, to their face lighting up when they see him.
“They start chatting away to Grady and want to participate.
“Grady will have an amazing impact on so many lives – I’m so proud of this new program.”
Grady was welcomed to the team and introduced to clients at an open house held in January.
For more information, visit www.kitestherapytas.org.au.