Dogs help Ridgewood students lower stress levels
JANUARY 28, 2016 LAST UPDATED: THURSDAY, JANUARY 28, 2016, 11:41 AM
BY MATTHEW SCHNEIDER
STAFF WRITER |
THE RIDGEWOOD NEWS
Ridgewood High School students in the midst of stressing over midterm exams were given a reprieve over the past couple weeks, thanks to the timely arrival of some therapy dogs.
Robert Bell, the district’s supervisor of wellness, worked in conjunction with a non-profit called Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs in order to bring five specially trained canines to the high school over four mornings, allowing students to relax between exams and forget about their studies for a while.
“It’s a great opportunity for the kids,” Bell said, noting that the students really seemed to be enjoying themselves, as evidenced by the laughter ringing up and down the hallway.
According to Bell, Ridgewood High School is the first public school to attempt such a de-stressing technique. The program is often used at colleges and universities.
“In all of our research, we haven’t found a public high school that has tried this,” Bell said. “We specifically went for professionally trained dogs, working with outside organizations, bringing in five dogs a day and putting them in different locations throughout the building.”
He explained that the high school’s version of the event is a litmus test, by which the district’s administrators will decide if it is worth bringing to other Ridgewood schools. He also noted that other public schools have contacted the high school about the program.
“We get a lot of phone calls about it, just how this process is working,” Bell said. “I think there’s interest out there at the public school level.”
While the program seems to be an enjoyable one, it is also economically feasible, according to Bell.