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Girl Scouts earn Award for ‘Read to Furry Friends’

April 2, 2020

Three eighth-grade Girl Scout Cadets from Troop 41601, Meredith Swanson, Katelyn McCarthy and Joshika Prabhugee recently earned the Silver Award for their project, “Read to Furry Friends.”

When brainstorming an idea that needed to meet the award’s criteria of both finding a need and showing a leadership role within the community, they remembered an early literacy program that incorporated something similar.

“The girls reached out to several trained therapy dog organizations and heard back from many of them,” explained Annie B. Fales Elementary School teacher Kathy Swanson. “They were able to get commitments from three different volunteers with their trained therapy dogs that will be at the Westborough Public Library as well as the Southborough Public Library.  This is a wonderful opportunity for children in grades one through three to read to the dogs.”

“My favorite part is seeing the kids kind of warm up to the dog and get more comfortable reading,” McCarthy said. “At first they come in and they are nervous but then the more time they are with the dog, they get comfy and they read and are not nervous at all.”

The program helps to build confidence in a child, while helping to improve their reading skills in a non-judgmental setting.

Within the 50-hour project, the girls have also incorporated the collection of donated items for local rescue shelters. Bins have been placed at Fales Elementary School, the Westborough Public Library, and the Southborough Public Library.

“Here at Fales, we already had one of the volunteers come with their dog in mid-December,” Swanson noted. “It was so successful that we have a couple of additional dates scheduled. The students typically are more willing to sit down with a dog and read when they would be hesitant with another student or adult.”

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