Wayland Academy students thank charity for furry reading companion

Wayland Academy pupils hand over a cheque for 350 to Pets as Therapy. Pictured (L-R): Wendy Jones, P

Wayland Academy pupils hand over a cheque for 350 to Pets as Therapy. Pictured (L-R): Wendy Jones, PAT volunteer, Jack Nicholls, Ellie Lynch, Glen Allott, Wayland Academy principal, Heidi Collins, Jay Osborne, Sue Kay, PAT volunteer, Carole Adam (PAT volunteer area coordinator and dog assessor. - Credit: Archant

After 18 months of help and support from a canine reading companion, a group of high school students has decided to give something back to the charity which lent her to them.

Dora, a cocker spaniel, has been helping students at Wayland Academy to improve their reading confidence through the Pets As Therapy Read2Dogs programme.

The initiative, which gave students weekly sessions with Dora, has made a marked difference in helping them to become more confident readers.

Now students and staff at the academy in Watton have said their own thank you to their furry friend and Pets As Therapy by raising £350 for the charity.

Groups of students from across the academy got involved in fund-raising efforts including a non-uniform day and coffee and cake mornings.

Dora and her owner, Pets As Therapy volunteer Sue Kay, were among those present as students handed over their cheque.

Students in the Special Educational Needs department at the academy are continuing to benefit from the weekly reading sessions – and there are now plans to use Pets As Therapy dogs to help other students too.

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On Friday, May 13, 10 Pets As Therapy dogs will be coming into the academy to provide Year 11 students with a welcome break from revision through short stress-reducing sessions, a few days before the start of their GCSE exams.

Debbie Blundell, assistant to the SEND co-ordinator at Wayland Academy, said: 'Dora's visits to the academy have brought so much pleasure, and tangible benefits to our students through the reading sessions, and so we wanted to give something back to Pets As Therapy.

'We're really looking forward to doing more with the charity in the future, particularly around exams time when the Pets As Therapy dogs will be on hand to provide a calming influence for our students during this key period.'

Founded in 1983, Pets As Therapy is a national charity which provides visits by volunteers and their behavourially assessed animals to schools, hospitals, nursing homes and other venues to enhance health and wellbeing.

The Read2Dogs programme is intended to help young people become more confident about reading to others in a group.

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