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Local charter school using furry friends to boost mental health

Charlotte Lab School brought in two new therapy dogs to help battle students' anxiety and frustration.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Mental health issues in kids continue to be an ongoing challenge. One local school is finding new ways to promote change, using furry friends to boost mental health and academics.

Aniesha Jackson, a counselor at Charlotte Lab School, wanted to make some changes to her counseling program. 

Jackson says that what worked in 2018 and before is different than now, as more and more students are battling with frustration and anxiety.

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Now the goal is to meet students where they are, so the school added two new therapy dogs. The addition of these furry friends "shifts the entire atmosphere," said Jackson.

Caele Gambs, Director of Admissions at Charlotte Lab School, describes the benefits that school therapy dogs have on students.

"Sometimes it's hard to come to school, you know, there's a lot going on in your home life and things are tough, and that sometimes it's sports, or sometimes it's art, but sometimes it's therapy dogs," said Gambs. 

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Not only do their four-legged friends provide joy and comfort to students, but the school is also seeing progress and improvements in the classroom. 

"For my students who lack that confidence,  the teachers are like 'wow, they're participating more.' The confidence that they have is unmatched no matter how many times I can counsel them and it's something that the dog gives them," Jackson said. 

Not only do results show they are moving in the right direction, but the students also have warm hugs and wagging tails to prove it.

Contact Tradesha Woodard at twoodard1@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.  

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