North Coast kids striving to read now have furry friends to help

Children across the North Coast now have the opportunity to access the Story Dogs program thanks to a $15,000 grant from the ETC Community Support Fund to expand the program into new schools in the region.

Story Dogs aims to provide early intervention reading assistance for Grade 2 students in primary schools where the students get to read to a trained canine.

ETC staff visited the Lismore Public School recently to see the Story Dogs program in-action with local dog team Emmy-Lou the Ridgeback and Jennie Dell her trainer.

Story Dogs Volunteer Jennie Dell said it was such a delight to bring a dog into schools who is well-behaved enough to sit and listen as children read to them.

“Interaction with Emmy-Lou has become closer and intimate week by week. Reading to her rather than me or a teacher seems to take the pressure off the students,” Jennie said.

“It’s all about making reading fun. Most of the kids I saw in the second week were more fluent than the week prior. Their pronunciation and word recognition had also improved.”

Eight-year old student Ellie-Grace said it was exciting for her to read to the dog.

“The dog is cute, cuddly and soft. It makes me happy when I read to the dog and makes me want to read more and more,” she said.

Lismore Public School Teacher Megan Duroux talked about a student in her class who is a striving reader and is accessing the Story Dogs program.

“This program has been fantastic for him as its building his confidence in reading. I have noticed a difference in his confidence and willingness to read already,” Ms Duroux said.

“I would definitely recommend to other schools to be a part of the Story Dogs program – it’s fantastic not just for their confidence, but giving them more opportunities to read in the school and with other people.”

Story Dogs are looking for a Coordinator to help organise school visits around the Lismore region. To find out more contact Marilyn Cameron-Dow on 0419 844 371 or visit www.storydogs.org.au

ETC Deputy Chair Ian Preston said it was a pleasure to be able to support Story Dogs.

“The ETC Community Support Fund is designed to help organisations reduce disadvantage, generate opportunity, increase support services and/or build capacity in the communities in which we operate,” Mr Preston said.

“ETC is proud to be a not-for-profit company and we are confident the money we are donating will help make a more positive future for our community.”

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