A FIVE-YEAR-OLD chocolate labrador named Buddy is helping school children to improve their reading.
Sponsored by Redlands Realty, Buddy is a pet trained by the Story Dog organisation.
Teams of dogs are taken into classrooms where children can practise reading aloud to them.
Being non-judgmental, the pets boost the children’s confidence.
In the Redlands the Story Dog organisation visits Ormiston, Birkdale South and Redland Bay state schools.
They are among the 224 schools, and 1800 students, across Australia taking part in the Story Dog program.
Cleveland co-ordinator Amanda Farrell said the dogs were taken to schools where they assisted students with reading by helping the children stay calm in a one-on-one environment.
“The child is essentially reading to the dog who is friendly and will love you regardless so the children's reading improves as they practice reading out loud,” Ms Farrell said.
“This in turn improves their confidence as well.”
Story Dogs aims to reverse 2006 statistics that found 46 per cent of the population were functionally illiterate.
“If what we do can help some of those children become readers before they reach adulthood, then it means we are doing some good in the community.”
Ms Farrell said people who had calm and friendly dogs could volunteer for the organisation.
They also welcomed donations and sponsorship from businesses or individuals.
These contributed towards putting a dog team into a school to help emerging readers.
Ms Farrell said the Redlands Realty sponsorship had enabled a new dog team to visit another school.
“It helps us to continue spreading the word of Story Dogs and grow the program within the Redlands and ultimately, countrywide,” she said.
“We'd also love to hear from schools interested in joining the program and from sponsors who would be interested in supporting us.”
Anyone who can help or who wants to find out more information can email Amanda via email@example.com.
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