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Meeting Our Students' Needs:

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Meeting Our Students' Needs:
by Eastchester District Website Administrator - Tuesday, December 4, 2018, 10:03 PM

StudentWhen Hedi Bonorato walked into a classroom at Anne Hutchinson with her service dog Bleu, the children couldn't wait to get down to business.

They trained Bleu to push an elevator button by holding out their hands and calling him. When Bleu pressed his nose against their palms, he received a treat.

"Every day I am able to bring these dogs into the classrooms, I feel is a privilege for me," said Bonorato.

Student with dogBonorato is the Founder of The Giving Retriever Program and she has been working with special needs students in the Eastchester School District for about four years.

 "I am the conduit for these children to be able to communicate and show their emotions which they might not be able to do if they didn't have these dogs."

As part of The Canine Integrative Therapy Program, Bonarato visits Anne Hutchinson once a week for 30 to 40 minutes.

When the dogs are fully trained they will be matched with families who have children with special needs. Training the dog benefits Eastchester students as well, by providing them with sense of fulfillment while teaching them about relationships.

"The Canine Therapy Program assists children with their emotions and is a calming presence for them," Special Education Teacher Aaron Crug continued, "and the training provides the students with concrete skills and allows them to grow."

Eastchester High School PTA Co-President Leslye Davidson wants even more students to benefit. "I heard that our entire high school brightened when Heidi's Canine Therapy dogs visited last spring," said Davidson. "I immediately knew that I wanted to broaden the therapy dog program to our general high school population to help address the stress and anxiety our kids face."

The EHS PTA has raised funds for more than 10 therapy dog visits to the high school and the Canine Therapy Program will continue for second through fourth-graders at Anne Hutchinson.

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