May 25 event ‘provides an opportunity to learn about the human-animal connection’

NEWS RELEASE

GEORGIAN COLLEGE

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Georgian College is set to host a Therapeutic Animal Conference, bringing together students, faculty, and nationally recognized experts to learn about the impacts and implementation of therapeutic animals, animal-assisted therapy, and service animal programs.

This free event will be held on May 25, 2023, at Georgian College (Barrie campus) from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“This gathering provides an opportunity to learn about the human-animal connection and the relationship between people, animals and their environment,” says educator and researcher Dr. Howard Bloom.

Co-hosts of the event are Dr. Howard Bloom and Dr. Adam Stibbards, professors at Georgian College.

Dr. Bloom and Dr. Stibbards have conducted research on the implementation and effect of a Canine Ambassador Program within school board milieu. This research was conducted with support from a $240,000 Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada College and Community Innovation Grant and is a partnership with Sweet Charity Canine Ambassador Program, and the Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB).

Based on their preliminary findings, it was found that canine partners positively affected staff and students’ overall mood, anxiety and stress and feelings of well-being, fostered a welcoming environment, and aided in cultivating stronger student-teacher and student-student relationships. The overall positive impact on school milieu and student well-being is significant.

“The Canine Ambassador Program (CAP) has had a positive impact on the ecology of elementary and secondary schools across Simcoe County. There are now over 65 CAP teams in SCDSB schools. Students and their teachers and staff interact with CAP dogs every day. The CAP impacts our community health and wellness, and the related applied research contributes to the scholarship of animal-assisted intervention. In addition, the project provided opportunities for Georgian College students to learn and mentor alongside academic researchers. Overall, this research is an example of our commitment toward innovation, community partnerships and experiential education for learners in all our programs,” says Dr. Bloom.

At this event, participants will hear from nationally recognized experts in animal-assisted interventions such as Dr. Ardra Cole, Dr. John Tyler Binfet, and Dr. Colleen Dell. Topics will include the different ways animal-assisted interventions are being used in education, corrections, policing, therapy, with the elderly, at hospitals, and within other environments.

Georgian College students who have worked with Dr. Bloom and Dr. Stibbards will also have an opportunity to discuss their experiences and answer questions. The conference will conclude with a panel discussion about implementing canine-assisted interventions, with representatives from the SCDSB, and the importance that dogs play in enhancing quality of life. Sweet Charity CAP and St. John Ambulance canine teams will be present at the conference to interact with participants.

This is a free event for Georgian College students, faculty, and all individuals in the community. Lunch will be provided with proof of registration.

To register, please visit www.eventbrite.com/e/therapeutic-animal-conference-tickets-516790041927?aff=ebdsoporgprofile.

Registration will be open until May 24, 2023. After registration details will be provided about parking, room location, and a conference itinerary.

For more information or questions, email [email protected].

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