It’s a G Thing: Therapy dog program unleashing confident readers

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There’s a new reading coach at the Stephen Gaynor School.

Meet Arrow. She’s four years old and fluent in her A-B-C’s!

For struggling readers at this school on the west side, she’s helping them make real strides when it comes to books!

"I’m absolutely thrilled with the progress the students are making. I’ve noticed an increase in their confidence," said Kristi Evans.

Arrow and her owner, Susan Zizmor, are one of dozens of teams that participate in the “R.E.A.D. Program.”

It’s the first and foremost "reading with therapy dogs" program that supports children’s literacy.
And since its launch in 1999, it’s now in all 50 states.

“So this is an opportunity one on one where the students reading to the handler they’re really reading to the dog. The dog is nonjudgmental so this will take away a lot of the fear," said Nancy George-Michalson, executive director of the R.E.A.D Program.

"It actually lowers a person’s blood pressure and heart rates, calms them down. And they’re able to relax its all about the joy of reading."

It provides a calm and non-judgmental environment -- just what these young readers need.

"Reading to a therapy dog allows them to work at their own pace, read at their own pace. It makes the children feel safe and when children feel safe, they feel empowered," said Evans.

And Arrow and her owner are thrilled at the kid’s progress!

“I think she's got a lot of love to share and reading is really important. And I think what we're doing here is really good," said Susan Zizmor.

"So your dog kissed everybody in this room but me?" asked Mr. G. "I don’t know. Maybe you didn’t kiss her?"