Last Thursday, seven dogs and their volunteer owners visited UEA in an attempt to introduce a Pets as Therapy (PAT) society for students. The club, if established, would aim to help students with a disability, mental health problems, depression, stress or loneliness through interaction and therapeutic involvement with animals. The two pilot days that have taken place on campus have been a huge success. Last Thursday, 300 students attended the second session.
The two pilot days were established by PAT volunteer Carol Adam, UEA’s international student advisory team member, Susan Peters Corbett, and UEA disability advisor Debbie Sands.
Peters Corbett said: “The benefits of PAT dogs are well known and we are delighted that Pets As Therapy are working with us to trial this. We hope by testing the possibility of introducing a UEA PAT Club, we can provide a therapeutic medium for the recovery of self-esteem, help lonely or depressed students to feel less isolated and enhance the wellbeing of vulnerable students or those with mental health problems and exam stress”.
PAT is a national charity which takes animals and their volunteer owners on therapeutic visits to hospitals, hospices, special needs schools, nursing homes and care homes. If a UEA PAT club were established, the hope is for monthly sessions during term time, run by students for students, that will eventually open up to all those who could benefit.
It is also hoped that dog owners on the UEA staff may become involved in the club and volunteer their own pets.
If you wish to know more about volunteering for Pets as Therapy, visit www.petsastherapy.org or call 01844 345445.