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Connecting for Change program, the Paws Pet Therapy & CREATE Foundation

Posted on 4 April 2021

ChildrenCommunity

The aim of Connecting for Change was to build awareness of services in the community for children and young people living in residential care under child protection systems in the ACT and adjoining regions. ‘Pet therapy’ aims to create an environment in which a child or young person will feel comfortable to discuss mental health and wellbeing; alternative therapy methods; stigma and barriers to accessing support; and different services available in the community, with a trained practitioner.

CHIEF MINISTER’S CHARITABLE FUND 2019 GRANT – $10,000

The aim of Connecting for Change was to build awareness of services in the community for children and young people living in residential care under child protection systems in the ACT and adjoining regions.‘Pet therapy’ aims to create an environment in which a child or young person will feel comfortable to discuss mental health and wellbeing; alternative therapy methods; stigma and barriers to accessing support; and different services available in the community, with a trained practitioner.

Through existing partnerships with headspace and the Gugan Gulwan Youth Aboriginal Corporation, practitioners would both:

  • provide information about children’s rights in care and what to expect from the care system
  • enable children and young people to identify and speak about important issues and improvements they would like to see in the care system.

A key focus for this project was providing children and young people with opportunities to connect to community and to strengthen feelings of belonging. CREATE provided information and assistance to children and young people in care to connect, to build life skills and to participate in advocacy to produce long-term positive changes.

Children and young people also learned about CREATE activities, including Youth Advisory Groups, Speak Up programs, CREATE Your Future Life Skills Workshops and other targeted programs and advocacy initiatives.

In response to COVID-19 restrictions, program staff developed packs to be sent to young people in residential accommodation.

The packs included:

  • an introduction letter
  • a USB stick with a greeting and introduction from a Paws Pet Therapy volunteer and their companion (dog)
  • a Paws Pet Therapy bandana with the name of the young person
  • a Paws Pet Therapy mascot (toy dog) with a name tag carrying the name of the young person
  • CREATE Foundation wristbands, maze pens, sticker and postcards
  • headspace postcards
  • mindfulness activities.