By: Jessica Field and Katie Drohan
During the month of August, the Supported Independent Living Program in Etobicoke/York Region ran a pilot program called Project Paws. Created and facilitated by Katie Drohan and Jessica Field this program took place at our Creative Village Studio. This is a great opportunity to have hands-on interactions with various types of domestic and exotic animals, learn how to properly care of pets, and overall have a calming and therapeutic experience.
The four-week program offered many different choices and activities. Each week offered an opportunity to meet animals that were brought from different organizations including: Pawsitively Pets, Hands on Exotics and Therapeutic Paws of Canada. Participants visited the Toronto Humane Society for a free shelter tour that explained the importance of caring for pets properly and got to meet some of the pets from the shelter. The Toronto Wildlife Center taught us about wildlife in the GTA. The participants even got to make pet toys and paint their own pet rock.
Project Paws offered many resources for pet owners who receive ODSP income support to access free or lower cost veterinarian care from The Toronto Animal Services and other local organizations. The facilitators
created plain language pamphlets and information sheets on how to take care of pets. Participants had an opportunity to explore different educational stations around the studio that provided them with visual and tactile self-directed learning opportunities.
Upon gathering feedback from the participants, the facilitators found that the pilot project was a success. The program not only provided therapeutic benefits by improving participants’ moods and reducing anxiety and stress levels, it also empowered the individuals to gain confidence in their ability to properly care for their pets. This program generated an interest in volunteering within the community at local humane societies. Participants learned about pets and animals in a safe and fun environment, while promoting their artistic expression.
Project Paws would like to thank Therapeutic Paws of Canada, Pawsitively Pets, Hands on Exotics, the Toronto Wildlife Center and the Toronto Humane Society for partnering with us and making this possible. We would also like to thank Helmutt’s Pet Supplies for their generous donation of treats and small pet toys. Lastly, we would like to thank Rebecca Lawrence for her support with creating the pamphlets and other visuals, as well as the management and Creative Village Studio for believing in this program and helping to make it possible.
Project Paws hopes to continue to run the program at other locations so that more people can benefit from this great initiative!
For more information please contact
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