Programs & Services - Paws and Pals

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Overview

The Help Group is pleased to offer Paws & Pals for Kids with Autism, a volunteer-supported pet intervention program for children enrolled in its autism schools, Kids Like Me recreational camps, teen residential and young adult transitional living programs. Paws and Pals offers a unique approach for teachers, therapists and qualified volunteers to support and engage young people with social and communication challenges in dynamic and meaningful ways.

Paws and Pals volunteers visit weekdays or weekends during school, after-school and evening hours. Locations include The Help Group’s Sherman Oaks, Culver City, and Van Nuys Campuses, in addition to the American Jewish University in Bel Air. All visits are coordinated and supervised by Help Group administrators and staff.

Paws and Pals highlighted on Premiere episode of “Cesar Millan’s Dog Nation”

The Help Group’s Paws and Pals for Kids with Autism program was highlighted on the premiere episode of “Cesar Millan’s Dog Nation,” on Friday, March 3, 2017 on Nat Geo WILD. Watch how Cesar and Andre discover The Help Group’s Paws and Pals program and see the remarkable therapy dogs and volunteers in action with our students in the short clip from the episode shown here.

The Help Group established its Paws and Pals for Kids with Autism program in 2013 as a volunteer-supported pet intervention program for children enrolled in its autism schools, Kids Like Me recreational camps, teen residential programs, and young adult transitional living programs. Paws and Pals offers a unique way for teachers, therapists, and qualified volunteers to support and engage young people who have social and communication challenges.

 

Benefits of Pet Intervention

Pet intervention can benefit young people with autism and other special needs in many ways:

  • Fosters social communication and language development
  • Supports friendship and peer relationship-building skills
  • Encourages classroom participation
  • Positively affects a child’s attention and focus
  • Supports the development of fine and gross motor skills
  • Supports transitioning into a new environment or learning a new task
  • Offers a comforting presence that a child will identify as predictable and safe

 

How to Volunteer

Join our growing team of volunteers and help bring the positive benefits of therapy dogs to children with autism. Paws and Pals volunteers work side-by-side with The Help Group’s highly qualified teams of educators, aides and therapists to bring the positive rewards of pet intervention to young people. Volunteers are dedicated to fostering the potential of each child and engaging them in creative ways to maximize learning.

Volunteers and their pets are certified by the nationally-recognized organization, The Alliance of Therapy Dogs and typically commit to visiting for two hours, once a week, in a variety of schools and programs offered year-round at The Help Group. Prior experience in settings with children is preferred.

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News

KTLA 5 News features The Help Group’s Paws and Pals Program as part of its coverage of Cesar Millan’s “Dog Nation” premiere episode, filmed in Los Angeles.

Contact Us

To learn more about the program or how to become a Paws and Pals volunteer, please fill out the form below or contact Lisa Manafian-Rozati, Special Projects Director, at 818.779.5212.

Volunteer Form

Thank you for your interest in volunteering at The Help Group! Please fill out this form, and we will get in touch with you soon.