With a motto of “Happiness has four legs and a purple bandana,” Therapy Dogs of Santa Barbara not only spreads happiness but also transforms lives, according to Founder and Executive Director Karen Lee Stevens. While COVID has prevented hands-on experiences, Stevens and her dedicated volunteers are finding creative ways to serve the community during this difficult time.
This fall, Therapy Dogs of Santa Barbara pivoted its school-based Mindful Kids program to a Zoom-based one at Vieja Valley Elementary School. Instructors, with their dogs alongside them, teach 6th grade students skills to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression and to increase focus and resilience. This winter, the program will expand to Hope Elementary and soon the organization hopes to operate at nonprofit organizations, as well. Teachers laud the program, not only for the benefits to the students, but for their own benefit, too. Therapy Dogs also began creating Mindfulness videos geared toward children, which it posts on its Facebook page.
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Photo Credit: Founder and Executive Director Karen Lee Stevens with Molly | Credit: Courtesy