Hinton Area Elementary School to receive therapy dog through Friends With Paws program

By Matthew Young, RealWV

Summers County will soon be welcoming its newest furry faculty member. 

It was announced, last week, that Hinton Area Elementary has been selected as one of the first three schools of 2023 to receive a therapy dog, a male cream labradoodle, through the Communities In Schools (CIS) Friends With Paws program. Also selected to participate are Oakvale Elementary in Mercer County, which will receive a male apricot and white labradoodle, and Bridgeview Elementary in Kanawha County, slated for a male yellow labrador. 

“I’m so proud of this program and all it’s doing for CIS students,” W.Va. First Lady Cathy Justice said on Thursday. “I look forward to placing more therapy dogs in CIS schools this year. I know they will make such a difference at each of their schools.”

W.Va. First Lady Cathy Justice.

The Friends With Paws program works closely with CIS schools throughout West Virginia. Therapy dogs are provided to schools “where students are disproportionately affected by poverty, substance misuse, or other at-risk situations, and are in the greatest need of a support animal. The dogs serve as a healthy and friendly outlet for these students to address trauma and other social-emotional issues.” The first therapy dog was placed in McDowell County in the Spring of 2022. Since that time, eight additional therapy dogs have been placed in schools across the state. 

In addition to the expansion of the Friends With Paws program, the First Lady also announced 13 more schools will be joining CIS this month, bringing the total to 208 schools in 38 counties. Through site coordinators stationed within participating schools, CIS leverages “partnerships to connect students and families with community resources.” 

Nutter Fort Primary, Nutter Fort Intermediate, and Norwood Elementary Schools in Harrison County, as well as Glade Elementary in Webster County are the first schools in their respective counties to participate in CIS. While both Mingo and Kanawha counties are currently a part of the program, CIS has been expanded into nine additional schools. The new member-schools in Mingo County are Burch, Gilbert, Kermit, Williamson, and Matewan PK-8 schools; and Mingo Central High School. In Kanawha County, Edgewood and Grandview Elementary Schools, and Capital High School will now participate. 

With the addition of the 13 new member-schools, Communities In Schools is now available to 91,000 West Virginia school children and their families. 

For more information regarding Communities In Schools – including the Friends With Paws program – visit ciswv.org

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