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CCST Visit to Elgin High School

PUPILS at a Moray school took a ‘paws’ from stress when they were visited by some four-legged friends.

Therapet’s representatives and their dogs took time to visit Elgin High School as part of a national pilot project to help youngsters de-stress ahead of their prelim exams.

Maureen Thomson, area representative for Canine Concern Scotland Trust, which incorporates Therapet, was among those visiting the school.

She said: “It went brilliantly, like a dream. We had four dogs there, and around 30 pupils got the chance to spend time with them, some of whom were preparing for exams. It was just a basic de-stressing session, and my word, did it work!”

The majority of youngsters taking part in the session started off rating their stress levels at four or five, with ‘one’ being ‘very relaxed’ and ‘five’ being ‘very stressed’.

“They were mostly ‘ones’ when they left,” Mrs Thomson said.

“The feedback was anonymous, but one pupil rated his stress at 10 to begin with, but one by the end. It just went brilliantly.”

Youngsters said that the session was a useful break from study, which they would do again, and an initiative they would recommend.

The idea for the school visit came after a group of pupils found out more about Therapet as part of a school Youth Philanthropy Initiative.

Mrs Thomson said: “Therapet volunteers visit universities in Scotland during exams, and one of the boys asked if they could visit schools.

“It stuck in my mind, and once the schools went back after the summer, I got in touch with head teacher Andy Simpson, and he was all for it.”

It is hoped that more ‘Paws Against Stress’ sessions can now take place in the lead-up to the exams in May.

Duncan McCook, the school’s home school link worker, said: “The youngsters who took part really enjoyed it, and there have been reports from the rest of the day that a lot of the kids remained calm.

“From the school’s point of view, it was a great success and we would just like to thank the guys at Therapet; it was very much appreciated.”

Therapet dogs are approved for temperament and general suitability before being accepted.

Mrs Thomson brought along Shetland collie Mia, while Kane, another Shetland collie, was with Frank Cascarino.

Border collie Silkie was with his owner, Tom Ellis, while Anne Mitchell brought her Lhasa Apso, Heidi.

Hundreds of people across the area have benefited from the calming influence of a dog’s company since the local branch was established around 20 years ago.

They visit hospitals, day centres and nursing homes, providing four-legged therapy and companionship to animal lovers who are unable to care for a pet full-time. Widely recognised as being good for the health, the mere action of stroking an animal is known to slow the heartbeat and reduce blood pressure.

Words & Pictures Courtesy of The Northern Scot

Sarah Rollo - Senior Reporter

This article appeared in “The Northern Scot” newspaper on January 15th 2016.

Duncan McCook – The Home/School Laison Officer for Elgin High School wrote;

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