On a Mission to Bring Peace and Joy To Kids: Meet Therapy Dog Sammy with Lausanne Collegiate School in Memphis
We have loved integrating the missions of Therapy Animals into our work at HERE, because they do such important work when it comes to having positive effects on our mental and physical wellbeing. As UCLA Health points out: “The simple act of petting animals releases an automatic relaxation response,” not to mention:
Lowers anxiety and helps people relax
Increases mental stimulation
We hope you enjoyed our first post from Kratu the Rescue and Therapy Dog in Cambridgeshire, UK, A Story For When Your Child Is Sad. “Letting go of heavy feelings/energy ( like sadness ) is important. Going out into the sunshine can make things feel lighter. Sitting on the ground with your back against a tree. Smelling some flowers. Nature always helps my mum. She always says thank you to nature after she feels better again. Appreciate and be grateful for the good things. That's a wonderful way to change any thinking of heavy sad things to happier lighter ones.”
Kratu’s message about gratitude was so well received, we know we need to continue to tell more of these stories. So with that, we are so happy to introduce you to Sammy! Sammy is a therapy dog in the Middle School at Lausanne Collegiate School in Memphis, TN.
“I love the quote ‘A warm smile is the universal language of kindness’ by William Arthur Ward. My mission is to put a smile on whoever I come in contact with throughout the day. Smiles are powerful!”
how sammy Helps With Stress and Anxiety
“You can probably tell from my pictures that I am really fluffy! Kids at Lausanne love to pet me and it also helps calm them. I help them with their stress and anxiety in many ways. Sometimes it is going to class with them when they have a big assessment or assignment to do and sometimes it is just hanging out in the classroom with them. It also makes me super happy to sit in their laps and get loved on all day! It's a win-win! There have also been many times when kids were going through a conflict with peers, in trouble at school or sick in the office waiting to go home and I get to go make them feel better by just being there for them. I try to give them a smile (and usually a lick on the face) and let them know that it is all going to be ok.
I try to go hang out in other parts of the school too. Recently there was a fire drill in the Lower School Building at Lausanne, so I went outside while the kids were walking out of the building from the fire drill and just smiled at them as they went by. I thought maybe some of them might be scared that there was a real fire and I wanted to be a welcome distraction from any anxiety that may have caused.”
a mindful moment: advice for children when feeling stressed or anxious
“One thing that seems to add to kid's stress and anxiety is that they often feel they have no control over what is causing their stress. Giving kids a strategy to use when they feel stressed or anxious gives them the power to try to help themselves. One strategy that we use in the Middle School at Lausanne is to practice a mindful moment at the beginning of each of the seven classes every day. The kids go through a short breathing exercise that helps to calm them and center their attention on the present moment and the current class they are in.
This really helps to bring peace during a busy day. The kids are reminded that they can also do this on their own when they feel stressed outside of the school day. Many of our students say that they practice a mindful moment at home before starting homework and also in sports and other extracurricular activities to help them focus on what they are doing and to calm nerves and anxiety.”
it can be tough growing up: advice for children who feel left out
“It is hard when you feel left out. It often leaves you feeling vulnerable and sad. I see this sometimes when kids are trying to fit in or be friends with people that they don't really have a lot in common with. My best advice to kids who are feeling left out is to look around at all of the other kids with an open mind because there is a group they will fit into and that will be open to their friendship. We just often aren't looking in the right place.”
the power of listening: how we can help children with their emotions
“The best thing I do for kids all day is just listening to them. Sometimes they don't need us to fix their problems, they just need us to listen and know that it is ok that they are feeling the way they are. I think that one of the worst things you can do for kids when they are feeling stressed or anxious is to be told not to feel that way. We need to listen to them, let them know it is ok to feel the way they are feeling and then help guide them to find strategies to help them solve their problem and/or deal with the stress/anxiety. It also helps to have a cute fluffy dog around to let them pet as well!”
Thank you so much to Sammy and his mom Julie Cooper, who is the Middle School Learning Specialist at Lausanne. We are so grateful to you for sharing your story and calming words that will help families around the globe. We also really admire the “Culture of Mindfulness” implemented at Lausanne and hope to see more missions like this across organisations!
(A little side note: It’s Sammy’s Birthday today ~ Happy Birthday Sammy! You can also follow Sammy on Instagram here.)