Melissa Newkirk Goes Gold!

You may have seen a therapy dog assisting a visually or physically impaired person, but did you know that therapy dogs can assist people in a lot of different ways? Melissa Newkirk utilized certified therapy dogs from the Paws for Friendship organization for her Gold Award project, Paws for Reading.

While planning her Gold Award project, Melissa identified a need in her community among young students having trouble improving their reading skills. She tackled the problem in a unique way, by bringing certified therapy dogs into Saddlebrook Elementary School to sit with students while they practice reading.

Students that participated in Paws for Reading were selected by the school. Each month, therapy dogs are brought in to the school for reading sessions with the students. Reading to an animal creates a relaxing environment where students can work on improving their reading skills while enjoying the company of a furry companion. During the sessions, students also learned about how to care for a pet.

Paws for Reading has been a great success and increased students’ enthusiasm for reading. The program will be sustained by Paws for Friendship.

Melissa’s project advisor was Sue Rockwell, former Paws for Friendship Omaha Chapter Coordinator. Melissa is the daughter of Lonnie and Debbie Newkirk of Omaha.

Are you ready to go for the Gold? Visit the Gold Award page of our website for more information.

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