Frowns upside down: Therapy dogs help students read, boost confidence

Be An Angel Therapy Dogs Ministry visits schools in Orange, Seminole counties

ORLANDO, Fla. – Turning frowns upside down: That’s the motto of Be An Angel Therapy Dogs Ministry, Inc.

The organization’s “Angel Paws to Read Program” provides a relaxed, supportive environment where children practice reading to a dog.

Angel Paws to Read originally began in partnership with the Orange County Library System, but now dog/handler teams visit several schools and libraries in Orange and Seminole counties.

“It’s very rewarding that we have done something that is going to help a lot of people,” founder June Feezel said.

Dog/handler teams visit Seminole Science Charter School every week. Third-grader Abigail said reading to a dog has helped improve her skills.

“I feel like when I have a pet around me, it helps me concentrate more,” she said.

Feezel said the obvious goal is to improve reading. However, she said the special dogs fill an important role.

“He influences them to have better self esteem and improve that. Their confidence level is raised considerably. We’ve had children that are absolutely petrified of dogs and by the end of the school year, they are not,” she said.

To learn more about it, visit the Angel Paws to Read Program website.

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