"Animal District"- Community intervention assisted with animals.

Adolescents at risk use dog assisted therapy to improve the quality of life of vulnerable groups in the community

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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize and, based on its description, I am eligible to apply:

  • Yes, I’m eligible
  • Yes, I’m 18 years old or older

Should you be successful, please confirm your availability to attend:

  • Additional Skype interview(s) during the week of March 16-20th 2020
  • The Purina BetterwithPets Forum in Paris, on 3-4th of June 2020

Initiative's representative name

Natalia Pérez Alonso.

Initiative's representative date of birth

2081974

Initiative's representative gender

  • Woman

Headquarters location: country

  • Spain

Headquarters location: city

Alicante.

Where are you making a difference?

Animal District is a pionner iniciative in Spain. Actually helps vulnerable groups of people in 5 cities around Alicante: Santa Pola, Aspe, Cocentaina, Alfaz del Pi and Alicante city. More of five hundred persons has participed. Animal District is a win win program based in human animal bond where everyone can find a place and improve his quality of life.

Website or social media url(s)

Web Site: www.humanymal.es Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/humanymal/

Date Started

Animal District has been developed since 07/2016

Focus Areas

  • Fostering emotional intelligence and behavioural competences
  • Promote inclusivity
  • Enhance physical activity and wellness
  • Re-imagining the role of pets in society

What is your current yearly budget for the initiative? If you are an idea stage, what early budget you would need to kick-off and run operations in your first year?

  • €1mil - €5mil

Organisation Type

  • nonprofit/NGO: an organisation that uses its resources to achieve a purpose outside of creating profit

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.

We realized of de big potencial of "Animal District" iniciative when we could check the big number of beneficiaries that we could reach incorporating therapy dogs as link between diferent vulnerable human groups in the comunity and how the project was able to aswer to diferent needs. Specially in case of teenagers at risk, the program has suposed a good tool when another treatments had failed because the animals have suposed the main motivational element for them. Other light point for us was de capacity of Animal District to raise awareness about the benefits of human-animal bond and the importance of protect animals in our country.

2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

We pretend offer an alternative treatment based in animal assisted interventions for teenagers at risk for those who don´t exist a useful response from education and social institutions or when another treatments has failed. On the other hand, "Animal District" pretend to bring dog assisted interventions to collectives that can obtain good benefits: old age people, disabled persons or children with special needs.

3. Your solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Our proposal with "Animal District" program, is to bring teenagers at risk a real mission from the animal asisted interventions, training them like therapy dogs handlers. With this recipe, the incorporation of therapy dogs in their development, aims to generate a positive climate, capable of generating a greater receptivity to educational content by young participants, in addition to motivating participation. Likewise, working with therapy dogs will improve the perception of their own abilities, the management of their own emotions and personal, social and academic self-esteem. The program includes the development of assisted activities with dogs with other groups in situations of vulnerability in which young participants will have the opportunity to practice the skills and exercises worked with the therapy dog. The fact that the participants are involved in community actions that benefit others will contribute to providing the program with essential realism and utility, in our opinion, in working with adolescents.

4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?

The methodological approach that we propose to solve the problematic object of the project is very novel because it incorporates the interventions assisted with dogs as a resource for psychoeducational intervention with adolescents at risk and for the community perspective and mutual help that it includes. Thanks to this, different groups can help each other by having companion animals as a link. Thus, adolescents are trained as canine guides for therapy dogs and subsequently, accompanied by experts, develop sessions of assisted activity with dogs aimed at other vulnerable groups within the community: Elderly with Alzheimer, People with chronic diseases, children in situations of vulnerability, mentally ill and people with disabilities.

5. How does your project harness the pet-human bond to help people develop important social competencies (For example: emotional intelligence, collaboration, empathy, resilience, inclusivity) and overcome serious societal issues (for example: violence, abuse, trauma, isolation, abandonment)?

The animal human bond is the basis of the success of the project because it is from this that adolescents acquire social and emotional skills by participating in specific dynamics and activities with their therapy dogs. Through work with their therapy dog they acquire values, knowledge, a greater capacity for emotional management and social skills. In the case of the groups with which adolescents develop assisted activities with dogs, dynamics are performed that strengthen the bond with the dogs to improve mood, induce relaxation, enhance communication with the environment, etc.

6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?

The main differential values of "Animal District" are: 1. Ability to benefit a large number of people in situations of vulnerability within a community and their intergenerational and intercultural character. Beneficiaries: -Adolescents at risk: 212 -Elderly with Alzheimer's, People with chronic diseases, children in vulnerable situations, mentally ill and people with disabilities: 385 -Recipients of animal activism campaigns: 495 -Reach in social networks: 46,000 2. Mutual aid as a basis for work, so that various groups cooperate with each other and benefit from all that companion animals can contribute in therapeutic and educational contexts.

7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?

The first step for us is to expand the number of cities that join the network of participants in Animal District. So far, 5 cities in the province of Alicante continue to participate and this year the sixth will be incorporated. In the medium term we would like to be able to replicate the Animal District project in other provinces until it covers the entire country. For this, we include in our expansion plan the development of training courses for the training of professional teams in other parts of Spain as well as the presentation of the project in congresses and professional conferences

8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for different stakeholders?

We can't think of a better way to create shared value and generate social contribution than to bet on the new generations. To contribute to the personal and professional training of adolescents, especially those who present difficulties, incorporating in them values of support to the most vulnerable members of society, whether people or animals, we are convinced that it can make a difference.

9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

Usually the Animal District project has been supported by public institutions, mainly municipalities, of the cities in which it is carried out. Also by the Generalitat Valenciana. Our short and medium term strategy is to continue requesting support from the public administrations responsible for addressing the needs of vulnerable groups. In the long term we hope to achieve sponsorships of private companies and Foundations sensitized with the objectives of the project.

10. Team: what is the current composition of your team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?

1. Project Coordinator. Psychologist Expert in animal assisted interventions . Coordination and programming of sessions, Evaluation and monitoring of patients. 2. Therapist expert in family and childhood, expert in dog assisted interventions. 3. Expert teacher and dog assisted interventions. 4. Social educator expert in dog assisted interventions. 5. Therapy dog instructor.

11. How do you plan to influence your field of work if you are a winner of this edition of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize?

We hope to generate greater replicability of our work model in other intervention teams present in our field. Given the novelty of our methodology and its good results for people and pets, we hope that it will be constituted as a valid model of community intervention at national and international level. We also hope to be an inspiration for those teams working in assisted therapy with dogs who want to incorporate mutual help between animals and people as an intervention model.

12. How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media
  • Email

13. Example: Please walk us through one or two concrete examples of how your solution will solve the problem you’re trying to address.

The fact of providing a successful experience to adolescents at risk who until now had only known experiences of failure at school, social and family level, will be a positive anchor that will significantly influence them in the future. This will also affect their own self concept by offering a more positive image of themselves. We hope that when these young people have to face personal and professional challenges in the future, they will remember this experience and serve them to expect the best of themselves. "If in the Animal District project I was congratulated and achieved my goals, why don't I get it now?" We can verify this positive effect in many of the adolescents who have participated in the project, returning to their training, improving family relationships, avoiding risk behaviors etc.

14. Mutual Benefit: Explain how your project mutually benefits the pets involved – how is the pet not only used as tool?

It should be noted that in the Somos Humanymal association we start from strong values of respect and protection towards animals. In fact, all our dogs were rescued from situations of neglect and abuse, rehabilitated and trained as therapy dogs. We also work the link with them from respecting their needs, considering them not as mere tools but as partners with whom we maintain an equal relationship. This ensures that each session provides well-being for the patient, for the therapy dog and for the human team.

15. Marketplace: Who else is addressing this problem in your environment? How does your proposed project differ from these other approaches?

In the immediate environment of the Animal District project there are public organizations and non-governmental organizations that work with adolescents at risk as well as with other vulnerable groups: the elderly, people with disabilities, mentally ill etc. However, our project offers important unique aspects such as the participation of therapy dogs as a link between different vulnerable groups, cooperation between these groups to generate benefits for all and the incorporation of animal welfare activism as an intervention tool. . A model of mutual help provided with animals in which everyone wins and in which the number of beneficiaries is huge.

16. Tell us about how collaborations and partnerships would enhance the scalability and impact of your project.

Alliances that have contributed to the growth of the project: -Public institutions. They are in charge of selecting the beneficiary group of teenagers. -Non-governmental organizations that direct their actions to vulnerable Human groups. They have offered us the possibility of working with different vulnerable groups and showing the benefits that dog-assisted interventions can offer them. -Animal protection organizations. These organizations have boosted the area of ​​activism of the project and of them part of our main value, our therapy dogs. All of them were adopted in animal shelters present in our context. -Other entities dedicated to assisted interventions with dogs. The communication and transmission of the project model will help us expand it to other parts of our country and internationally, favoring the one that can be replicated. All of them are essential to achieve the objectives of the Animal District as a tool for community revitalization.

17. Awards & Recognitions: What awards or recognitions, if any, has the project received so far?

This is the first time we have presented the project to some awards, which is why for us the main recognition is that so far we have been granted the beneficiaries to whom we are addressing and the organizations with which we cooperate.

18. Your Self-Elevator Pitch (OPTIONAL): Share a 1-minute video that shares a quick summary of the problem you would like to solve, how you’ve chosen to solve it, and the impact you hope to see.

19. Financial Sustainability (OPTIONAL): Please tell us more about how you plan to fund and scale your project, include an attached document with your detailed business plan or other equivalent information. (This information will NOT be shared with your fellow contestant, it will only be visible to you and internal Prize reviewers).

BUSINESS PLAN- DISTRICT ANIMAL PROJECT ACTIONS IN 2020 - 2021 Guarantee the continuity and economic sustainability of the project. Maintain the support of the different municipalities that are currently participating and that guarantee the economic sustainability of the project in their cities. Increase the number of municipalities involved. We plan to have two new cities join the project in 2020. Offer participation in the project as an intervention resource to private institutions dedicated to working with at-risk youth. Involve the business community through private sponsorships in which companies can actively participate in the project and propose the beneficiary groups in line with their corporate social responsibility. Also from the volunteering of its workers in the project. Develop training sessions aimed at professional teams belonging to the field of interventions assisted with animals for the transmission of our work model.

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