Bridgeworth is pleased to share the story of one of the nonprofits being spotlighted by our 2014 holiday campaign: Hand in Paw.
Hand in Paw was created in 1996 by Beth Franklin, who had a vision to design and build an organization that would, through the use of animal-assisted therapy teams, improve the health and well-being of people of all ages. It didn’t take long before the animal-assisted therapy teams became a familiar sight in area hospitals, schools, nursing homes, and rehabilitation. From that humble beginning, HIP now has 100+ Therapy Teams and 40+ Therapy Visit Assistants and make more than 60,000 patient/client contacts on an annual basis.
There is an abundance of research that demonstrates the physical and emotional benefits of petting an animal. The HIP teams see it everyday through their primary programs:
- Petscription offers positive distraction from pain and worry for patients in hospitals and motivation for meeting therapeutic goals in rehabilitation units, early intervention programs, and special needs classrooms. The Petscription program has proven beneficial in reducing the need for sedation during invasive or stressful procedures. Petscription proves professional staff a more relaxed patient and family with which to work, and reduces the length of time required to reach therapy goals. HIP services are in high demand among people receiving care for acute medical conditions, cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy, people living with mental disorders, students receiving special education, and patients requiring speech, occupational, and physical therapy.
- Pawsitive Living™ and No More Bullies! – Pawsitive Living™ is an innovative 12-week program that teaches compassion and anger-management to at-risk children and youth. Written by licensed professionals, the curriculum works to prevent family and community violence and prepare youth to be better citizens and parents in the future. The pets serve as a bridge of communication between the volunteers and participants, many of whom have developed a hard facade due to past experiences. At the end of the program, participants demonstrate their change in perspective and ability to contribute positively to the community by visiting with our Therapy Teams, a facility that serves people with special needs. No More Bullies! is a six-week humane education program for children. The curriculum combines character education with a strong anti-violence message. The program gives children the skill set to solve problems in loving, caring, and productive way for all involved and the courage to stand up for themselves and those who are weaker.
- Sit, Stay, Read! helps reluctant young readers to gain confidence, sharpen their skills and improve school performance by reading aloud to a nonjudgmental furry friend. HIP’s specially-trained Therapy Teams make reading a non-threatening and positive learning experience. Because pets accept people without conditions, the human-animal bond creates a relationship free of the stress of judgments and expectations. Sit, Stay, Read! has demonstrated significant improvements in children’s attitudes towards reading. This results in improved reading skills, increased interest in reading, and more participation in the classroom. The children gain self-confidence and positive life skills that serve them throughout their lives.
Executive Director Laura Caldwell said, “We are so honored to be chosen as one of Bridgeworth’s three charitable organizations. What a kind and creative way to spread holiday cheer by supporting those who help our community. We are in such good company.”
Laura went on to explain, “This collaboration with Bridgeworth will help us further educate about the power of Animal-Assisted Therapy and Hand in Paw’s programs, which improve literacy, prevent bullying and violence, alleviate stress, and help people with special needs reach therapeutic goals and live more independent lives. Last year, 175 Hand in Paw volunteers made 77,000 therapeutic interventions in more than 70 medical centers, schools, and human service agencies. The support of Bridgeworth will allow us to continue to deliver our programs free of charge while upholding a commitment to the highest quality. It will help us to recruit outstanding new volunteers and supporters and activate service partnerships with community organizations currently awaiting services. We appreciate this unique way of sharing the mission of Hand in Paw as we strive to improve lives through North Central Alabama.”