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Kites takes off with Dog-Assisted Therapy delivering a first for the state

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Kites Children’s Therapy is the first service in Tasmania to offer Dog-Assisted Therapy to help children and young people living with a range of disabilities.

Three year old black Labrador, Grady, is the newest recruit at Kites Children’s Therapy.

To welcome him to the team, Kites held an Open House for clients and their families.

Dog-Assisted Therapy uses highly trained Labradors, like Grady, to deliver creative ways for children to achieve their therapy goals.

“Children of all ages with a range of disabilities can benefit from Dog-Assisted Therapy,” said Tennille Burns, Program Manager of Kites Children’s Therapy Tasmania.

“Dog-Assisted Therapy can be helpful to children who have difficulty engaging with traditional therapy approaches.

“At Kites, Grady will team up with our Occupational Therapist, Hannah, to deliver therapy in a fun and engaging way that meets the client’s therapy goals.

“This can include motivating children to engage in the practice of skills, physical tasks such as completing an obstacle course, developing social skills, self-care skills, play and language skills.”

Grady has undergone intensive training with Kim Ryan, Program Manager for Guide Dog Services Tasmania (link opens in new window), to learn how to become a therapy dog.

“Grady is a perfect fit for the role,” said Kim.

“His affectionate nature and love of children, keep him engaged in sessions. Watching him learn the skills in training, then introducing children to the sessions, has been a delight to see.

“Grady encourages children to take turns, to maintain eye contact and follow instructions.

“It is so rewarding to see the positive affect that he has on children. I’ve seen a child go from being unmotivated, to their face lighting up when they see him. They start chatting away to Grady and want to participate. Grady will have an amazing impact on so many lives. I’m so proud of this new program.”

The Open House coincided with the official launch of Kites Children’s Therapy in Tasmania with fresh new branding as it joins the VisAbility family.

“Our Open House was delayed due to COVID. However, we still wanted to celebrate with our Kites family. With lots of activities for kids, the Open House is a fun way to celebrate our official launch, to welcome everyone back to the centre, and to introduce them to our star recruit, Grady,” said Tennille.