Burns by Your Side is a scheme aimed at children who could benefit from improved reading and communication skills.
The idea which is tried and trusted in the US helps children in a variety of education settings gain confidence in building their vocabulary and fluency by reading to a dog. Using specially trained volunteers and their companion dogs, these very special animals come to the school to hear the children read. The scheme also supports children in nurturing or special provision units to help increase feelings of well-being through a therapy visit.
Learning to read or communicating generally can be fearful for many children. Research has shown that reading to a dog as a companion can reduce stress levels, increase relaxation and provide a comfortable situation where there is no peer pressure. This creates an environment where a child is empowered and motivated. A dog is a compassionate listener and doesn’t judge.
Preferably on a one-to-one basis, a child will read or communicate with the Burns by Your Side dog. The dog is supervised at all times by the skilled handler, who will remove any pressure from the child and provide gentle support. The environment creates a calm non-judgmental atmosphere where additional reading or communication practice builds vocabulary and fluency.
A Burns by Your Side volunteer team consists of a well-trained therapy dog working alongside their handler. The animals are good-natured and thoroughly assessed for their levels of obedience and temperament by a fully qualified dog trainer and assessor. Volunteer handlers have undertaken the Tier 1 Safeguarding training and an enhanced DBS check. We advocate the best possible working environment and practice for the welfare of the dogs and some of our volunteer handlers are specialist dog trainers. Others are hugely dedicated individuals who wish to make a positive contribution to our future generation.
We are looking for some very special volunteers.
‘Burns by Your Side’ will give you and your dog the opportunity to become a trained volunteer team. Working alongside your dog, you will visit a local school for a few hours each month.
This valuable service will help children with their reading as well as building confidence and well being with children that have special nurturing needs. You need to be over 18 and have an obedient, gentle and well behaved dog that is more than 18 months old and has lived with you for at least a year. Full training for you and your dog, on-going support and travelling expenses will be offered to assistance teams that pass the assessment process.
Are able to volunteer some time each week or fortnight to visit a school or special nurturing unit.
Are good natured, presentable and enjoy working with children of all age groups.
Can volunteer additional time for on-going training, supervision and group development sessions that will occur throughout the year.
Have access to reliable transport to visit a school in your locality and occasional visits to Burns headquarters in Carmarthenshire for training and development sessions.
Have simple computer literacy skills with the facility to communicate by email.
Certain levels of obedience and behaviour are required from your dog but full training will be given.
Volunteer introductory meeting.
If the volunteer and their dog fulfil the criteria they will be contacted to attend an initial introductory workshop in Burns Pet Nutrition head office in Kidwelly.
Practical Training Day
Selected volunteer handler and dog teams will be contacted for a practical training day. A short theory assessment will be provided for the handler to read and learn.
A one day assessment and workshop which will include questions from the theory assessment and practical training day. Final selection and certification of volunteer teams will take place on that day.
If you would like to find out more information about the Burns ‘By Your Side’ scheme or would like a demonstration for your school, we would be very pleased to come along and talk to you about how we can help. Please contact Carol Lincoln at firstname.lastname@example.org
Burns ‘By Your Side’ is one of a series of projects being developed to benefit communities via the Burns Pet Nutrition Foundation ( Registered charity 1165392 ). Burns Pet Nutrition is a nationally respected Pet Food company. Burns Pet Nutrition was founded in Carmarthenshire by veterinary surgeon John Burns in 1993. Find out more...