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Petra and Holly help students read at Doonan Steiner School

Petra Westphal and greyhound Holly.
Petra Westphal and greyhound Holly.

PETRA Westphal had limited time at her disposal but she was looking for a volunteer program where she would have an opportunity to involve her handsome biscuit-coloured greyhound Holly.

Eventually a Google search turned up Story Dogs.

The Story Dogs program is based on the American literacy program Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.). Reading sessions take place in a quiet area of the school grounds, such as the library or outside the classroom. A reading session is 20 minutes, where each child is one-on-one with the dog team. Books are chosen to suit the student's reading level. During the session, the handler often speaks through the dog, such as; "Sam doesn't understand what is happening on this page, could you help him out?" The child becomes the teacher; and their confidence soars.

After speaking with co-founder Janine Sigley, Holly was assessed and judged to have the calm gentle temperament to be an ideal Story Dog.

Petra Westphal and Holly are now the first Story Dog team on the Sunshine Coast, based at Noosa Pengari Steiner School.

Story Dogs would like to hear from would-be volunteers. Phone Janine Sigley on 0411 536 355, Google story dogs or email info@storydogs.org.au.


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