(520) 360-9881

Visión General

The Sunshine Therapy Animal Program recruits, trains and places registered therapy teams, consisting of an owner and their pet in the Tucson community. Sunshine Therapy teams offer unconditional love while teaching courage, grit, respect, confidence, respect, self-awareness and empathy to the children they are visiting. The therapy teams visit various facilities that serve historically underserved or disenfranchised youth: the facilities include but are not limited to after-school programs, domestic violence shelters, group homes, schools, libraries, residential treatment facilities and other shelter facilities. The Sunshine Therapy teams focus on teaching life skills these children may not have not learned through traditional channels, such as the humane treatment of animals.

The Sunshine Therapy teams are broken up into three subgroups:

Animal Assisted Therapy Teams, The AAT teams, provide "animal-assisted activities" to the students. Animal-assisted activities are goal-related activities that improve the quality of the child's life through the use of the human-animal bond.  Research confirms that pet therapy visits create a bond of unconditional love between a dog and child that allows for important life skills to be learned through continual interaction and regular visits with the dog.

Our friendly visitor teams offer a presence that is calming and creates a comfortable environment for the child.  Although these visits are shorter in length with no planned activity, the therapy teams witness the emotional and psychological benefits received by the students. Studies show physical contact with an animal lowers blood pressure, decreases cholesterol levels, reduces anxiety, boosts the immune system, decreases aggression and increases socialization and communication.

Lastly, our Read to a Dog Teams lend a non-judgmental ear to a struggling reader. Sometimes, kids who are learning to read get stressed, not because they aren't capable of reading, but because they get nervous and self-conscious. They worry about making mistakes, they worry about not looking smart--and all those worries make it hard to focus. They dread reading in front of their friends, so they often choose not to participate. When children read with a dog, right away they start to relax, and then they forget about feeling self-conscious or nervous, and pretty soon things start to flow a little better. Before they know it, they are enjoying the experience of reading instead of dreading it. They are even looking forward to the next time. The Sunshine Therapy Animal staff will place the therapy teams in their best-suited placement.

The goal of each therapy visit is for the Sunshine therapy animal is to develop and strengthen positive behaviors in the children they are visiting. We hope the children will learn qualities such as courage, grit, empathy, trust, confidence, respect and self-awareness.  Once a child learns to be empathetic toward the dog and understands the therapy dog has feelings and emotions, a link is developed to enable the child to be sensitive to the feelings of others. The therapy animal also serves to be a catalyst for the child to open up and feel an attachment to the Sunshine Therapy Animal volunteers in hopes the child will become actively engaged and thrive in the facility they are being served.

Misión

Our mission is to develop and strengthen positive behaviors in the children we serve through the unconditional love of our therapy animals, not only enhancing the quality of their lives but also creating a lasting impact on the community.

Misión

Our mission is to develop and strengthen positive behaviors in the children we serve through the unconditional love of our therapy animals, not only enhancing the quality of their lives but also creating a lasting impact on the community.

Becoming a Sunshine Therapy Team

Sunshine Therapy volunteer pet therapy teams consist of a human and their therapy animal. Through the guidance of Sunshine Therapy Animals, we will help volunteers and their socialized, child-friendly, un-flackable and well-mannered pets become registered therapy animals through National organizations such as the Alliance of Therapy Dogs or Pet Partners. All volunteers are trained, given supplies, placed and supported throughout their time as a Sunshine Therapy Animal Volunteer. The first step to becoming an STA team is to email jackie@lapancollegeclub.org to set up an informational meeting.

What Sunshine Therapy Animals does for their volunteers

  • Provides training, support and finds most appropriate placement for you and your pet.
  • Supplies volunteer with visiting tool kit full of supplies used while visiting
  • Supplies volunteer with uniform for the human and a vest for their pet.
  • Supplies volunteer with personalized “trading cards” to be handed out on visits.
  • A library available to volunteers stocked with activities to be used on visits, books for children to read to your pet and supplies to restock your visiting tool kit.
  • Office space available to teams to use for meet-ups with other teams.
  • Annual volunteer appreciation event!

What are the Benefits of Therapy Animals Visits

Most children have a natural love, curiosity and bond with animals. They sense that animals share a dependent role in the family and society, animals are small like children and like children animals are honest and direct. Jan Van Patten, LCSW who is an expert in Therapy Animals and children found the following findings:

Therapy Animals have proven to improve the mental wellness of the people they visit. 

Sunshine Therapy Teams like other therapy dogs have shown to do the following:

  • Reducing stress and anxiety in new situations
  • Providing Unconditional love
  • Providing the opportunity for caring and understanding, which are the key tools for children to learn empathy
  • Increase perceptions of social support
  • Support people during times of crisis
  • Assist professionals in providing trauma recovery
  • Decrease levels of general anxiety
  • Alleviate symptoms of depression
  • Assist professionals in formalized mental health treatment

Therapy Animals Have proven through research in educational settings that there are positive impacts of incorporating therapy animals in the classroom. Sunshine Therapy animals may help with the following areas: 

  • Foster reading abilities, such as reading rate, accuracy, fluency, and comprehension
  • Enhance primary skills such as object recognition and categorization
  • Mitigate stress levels, especially surrounding events like final exams
  • Provide a source of motivation, stimulation, and focus in learning
  • Acting as a tool for learning boundaries
Benefits of the Human Animal Bond

Goals

The goal of each therapy visit is for the Sunshine therapy animal is to develop and strengthen positive behaviors in the children they are visiting. We hope the children will learn qualities such as courage, grit, empathy, trust, confidence, respect and self-awareness.

Request a Visit

The therapy teams visit various facilities that serve historically underserved or disenfranchised youth: the facilities include but are not limited to after-school programs, domestic violence shelters, group homes, schools, libraries, residential treatment facilities and other shelter facilities.

Contacto

(520) 360-9881
3407 S. 9th Ave • Tucson, AZ 85713

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