Jill Fedor (M.S. in Community/Public Health Nursing, Clinical Specialty Track) has had her manuscript “Animal-Assisted Therapy Supports Student Connectedness” accepted for publication in the National Association of School Nursing’s NASN School Nurse Journal.
Fedor’s work examines how a feeling of belonging or connectedness in school can have a positive impact on children’s social-emotional well-being as well as students’ academic success. Conversely, over time, a lack of school connectedness has been associated with increased risk-taking behaviors in adolescents, such as violence, and drug and alcohol use.
Health promotion strategies that support school connectedness have included a variety of approaches, such as shared lunches between teachers and students; school-based, multi-grade mentoring programs; and whole-school community activities. However, current research suggests that animal-assisted therapy has a positive effect on children’s social-emotional well-being.
Interactions with therapy dogs may support and encourage social risk-taking in these environments, particularly for children who are otherwise either unwilling or reluctant to engage socially.