The Windwalker Humane Coalition

Programs with Children and Youth

Pet Assisted Therapy Programs with Children and Youth
Windwalker Teams provide professional pet assisted therapy services in a variety of settings. Services vary from visitations to goal directed pro-grams held in schools or agencies. This section is focused on Wind-walker Teams who offer programs with children and youth.

An assignment for students in the  DJ Professional Pet Assisted Therapy Program is to develop a concept of a pet assisted therapy program that the student would be interested in doing with their therapy pets. As the student and therapy pet begin to work in the community their original concept may further develop or change. Below are examples of the variety of creative programs offered by Windwalker Teams. In all these programs children have the opportunity to experience Windwalker's guiding principals that the Therapy Pet is family and is happy to do this work.

Tillie Time
Tillie and Amy Gaddes
Davisville Middle School , North Kingstown
Tillie visits with students in the  Teacher's Skills Classroom - one day per month. The goal of Tillie Time is to support literacy and build communication by creating a safe space for middle school children with special needs (6th to 8th grades) to interact with Tillie.

Tillie loves to do tricks. Amy leads the children in creating and participating in a play called Tillie Joins the Circus. Tillie shows her new friends the tricks she can do .Tillie LOVES showing off (jumping through a hoop, going through a tunnel, doing high fives). The students write scenes with their teacher and take different parts in the play. Each time Tillie comes the students read their new scenes to Tillie and get ideas for the next one. This activity provides academic support to the teacher, gives the students a structured fun reading experience with their cute little furry friend. Students participate with various communication tools (typing, communication board).



Pickle and Pals
Pickle and Susan Olson
Elementary Schools, North Providence
Pickle provides his pet assisted therapy/literacy programs in two North Providence Elementary schools (Stephen Olney (three 1st grade classes for 4 weeks) and McGuire School (three 2nd grade classes for 6 weeks). Sessions are 45 minutes each.  Overall goal is to encourage students to build their own communication and social skills through their relationship with Pickle in class, and in discussion and writing for him.  Through their interest in Pickle, and discussions about him,  they learn how dogs communicate with each other and make friends. Through wanting to know and understand Pickle they build empathy and respect for others. Learning how to understand "dog speak" helps them to be safe around dogs and to care for their own pets. Students are given a writing project after each session and then, when Pickle returns, they read their writings to him. Their writings simply describe what they learn and feel in Pickle's class.

Pickle at McGuire School

Pickle at McGuire School

Clover's Kids
Clover and Morgan Deschenes, MSW, LICSW
RI Alternative Academy, Pawtucket
Clover works with Morgan at RI Alternative Academy.  The Mission of the school is to serve students in grades 7-12 who struggle in traditional school settings. The school focuses on giving students a fresh start and helping them choose a new direction. Morgan is the clinical Social Worker who provides counseling sessions to students based on their IEP goals or student needs.  Clover visits once a week. Many students, who may struggle  behaviorally and emotionally, spend time with Morgan and Clover individually in Morgan's office. Clover has her "Pillow Throne" and the students love to sit with her in their counseling sessions.

Clover at RI Alternative Academy

Clover at RI Alternative Academy

Paws to Play
Abbey and Pat Kane
Ocean State Kitz Club
Abbey and Pat visit the after-school program at Ocean State Kitz Club for 1 1/2 hour on a weekly basis. Overall goals are to help middle school students de-stress after school and assist them to develop their knowledge and treatment of all living things. In the summer Abbey visits the agency's summer camp for middle school students. Through safe and meaningful play, guided by Pat, Abby gives the students an option to interact with each other and the pet assisted therapy team rather than their electronic devices. Abby is off leash and the youth interact and play with her. The games may be "keep away", "fetch", "hide and seek"  with her ball, or she guesses who has the ball behind their back. For one on one experiences Pat and and Abbey teach a young person how to have her stay, come, sit, go around furniture by direction, etc.  Often Abbey just hangs with them.

Abby at Ocean State Kitz Club

Abby at Ocean State Kitz Club

Social Skills Adventures with Gillette
Gillette and Kerri Lanzieri, LICSW
Cranston Elementary Schools
Gillette and Kerri provide their program in Cranston elementary schools where Kerri is employed as a Social Worker. Overall program goals are to improve quality of life, increase emotional understanding, gain experi-ence in cooperation, patience and taking responsibility. The program is offered to children (with permission from parents) who are in preschool to fifth grade,  and held in small group sessions. Before the lessons start the students are taught a Social Story developed by Kerri and the structured sessions are held from one to four times in a month. Gillette helps the students gain an improved attitude toward school.

> November 2023 -Windwalker congratulates Kerri on being named Social Worker of the Year by National Association of Social Work (NASW)/



Gillette at Cranston Elementary Schools

Adventures with Fred Dog
Freddy and Gina Vessela, LICSW
Central High School in Providence
"Freddy Fridays" has become an important part of the Central High School community.  The overall goal of the program is for Freddy to bring joy as well as stress relief to everyone he meets. He also helps students learn about non-verbal communication, problem solving skills and social/life skills.  He attends breakfast and lunch as well as visits classrooms. Many students and faculty will visit Fred in his office throughout the day as well. Students will ask for him to attend special events as well such as graduation. Several students have learned to overcome their fears of dogs through working with Freddy.

> Windwalker invites you to read Providence School Department's newsletter, CONNECTIONS March 17, 2023 - Staff News - "An interview with Fred Dog" and CONNECTIONS October 4, 2023- Gina Vessella named School Social Worker of Year by Providence School Department (ppsd Connections newsletter)

> October 2023 - Windwalker congratulates Gina and Fred!


Freddy Fridays at Central High School

Pet Therapy with Harry and Dr. J
Harry and Dr. Janice DeFrances
Southside Elementary Charter School, Providence
Harry's goal is to provide emotional support and comfort to students, Kindergarten to Grade 5, who are experiencing anxiety or stress. They all know Harry! He is at school five days a week, getting hugs and giving comfort to any of the students who want or need it. Dr. DeFrances provides Special Education Services in the school. Harry spends the day in her office and classroom so when students come for services, Harry is there with them.



Peace-Train Professional Pet Therapy
with River and Judy Van Wyck
Ocean Tides, Inc.
River has been teaming up with Judy Van Wyk, since 2018, for pet assisted therapy work at Ocean Tides, Inc. Ocean Tides is a school and residential treatment program in Narragansett, primarily for boys 13-18 who are adjudicated as delinquent. The overall goals of the program are to help the boys learn, and experience, empathy and how to care for  animals. River and Judy offer 6-week programs focusing on empathy and assisting the boys to learn about the care, love, and maintenance involved in adopting a dog into our families. Participants also learn about positive, reward-based training and opportunities for volunteering to help animals. They also bake dog treats and decorate treat bags to hand out to teachers and staff who have dogs, and in doing this, and other activities, they learn about "paying it forward". River gets lots of pets and butt scratches, and he loves the boys.



Growing with Grace
with KarRa and Ann Olean
Cornerstone School
"Growing with Grace" is a Professional Pet Assisted Therapy Program designed for children and adults with developmental disabilities and cognitive and physical impairments.  The primary focus of the program is to facilitate the development of cognitive skills, communication skills, social skills and choice making skills. Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy and Occupational Therapy interventions are naturally incorporated into each session.

KarRa and Ann visit the classroom weekly and engage in 1:1 interaction with each student.  Each child has the opportunity to develop a personal therapeutic relationship with KarRa through consistent weekly contact.

Specific individualized goals and strategies for each child are based on their diagnostic profile, learning style and abilities.  The activity and strategies to achieve a goal (i.e., pet, brush, throw a ball, insert a peg in puzzle board, use a communication device) are based on the diagnostic profile and learning style of the individual. Primary teaching strategies include direct teaching, modeling, reshaping, visual supports and verbal praise and learning through having fun with a Therapy Dog.



Joy with Jasmine
Janice Robertson and Jasmine
Ponaganset Middle School
Janice is the Social Worker at Ponaganset Middle School (grades 6-8). Jasmine comes to school on Wednesdays and Fridays and, with Janice, works individually or in groups. Their general goals with the students are to provide comfort, improve motor and movement skills, develop social or behavioral skills, build esteem and reading skills, and increase motivation for social interactions and exercise.  Sometimes highly stressed students meet with Jasmine to "regulate" their bodies prior to returning to class. Students have verbalized feelings like "excitement", "happy", and "relaxed".

Janice and Jasmine also provide presentations such as "How Jasmine and Janice became a Therapy Team" and the benefits of incorporating their team into the Ponaganset Middle School.



Good Times with Georgi
Sheri Lough and Georgina
St. Philip School
Every week for three half-days at St. Philip School in Greenville, students referred by teachers, administrators, or families have sessions with Georgina and Sheri (Georgi). Through "Good Times  with Georgi," they have a safe place to feel loved, accepted, and supported. Through positive social experiences with the therapy dog they build empathy and positive social experiences with the therapy dog that can be translated to others. Georgi provides a relaxed atmosphere for focus and motivation for work quality and completion. Sessions incorporate goals, free-choice, structure, and documentation. Individual, small group, and classroom visits are provided.




The following therapy pets are no longer providing services to children due to retirement or death.

Therapy Paws
Teddy and Dr. Stephanie Pinto OTD, OTR/L
Cranston Schools


Guinevere's Kids!
Guinevere and Cynthia Vanaudenhove
Paul Cuffee School, Providence and New Hope Baptist Church, Pascoag


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