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Dogs prove great reading buddies

Students from the School of Early Childhood Development partnered with The Hospital for Sick Children to research the use of therapy dogs for a specialized reading program.

Bachelor of Child Development faculty member Sharon Quan-McGimpsey worked with two Seneca research assistants to study the effects of dogs on young patients’ reading skills. Dogs were provided through PetSmart’s PAWS program.

Students conducted foundational research including a literature review, observations of children interacting with the dogs and reading programs. This led to a recommended pilot reading curriculum for children in long-term hospital care.

Research assistant Susan O’Neill was invited to finalize and execute the pilot with Volunteer Resources at Sick Kids. Susan created a curriculum guide and materials that gave the hospital evidence-based research to share with potential funders.

Susan’s work helped further relationships with other external partners including St. John Ambulance (therapy dog training) and Dog Tales Rescue and Sanctuary.

The project was funded by the Faculty Led Research Initiative (FLRI) made available through Seneca’s Applied Research and Innovation department.

Project Partner: The Hospital for Sick Children

Sector: Health Care