School Therapy dogs make difference.

Provides security for students and helps them in school work.

Photo of Cecilia Åkesson
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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

Cecilia Åkesson

Initiative's representative date of birth


Initiative's representative gender

  • Woman

Headquarters location: country

  • Sweden

Headquarters location: city

Malmo, Tygelsjo

Where are you making a difference?

Sweden, Lund, the school´s name is Vegalyckan

Website or social media url(s) Instagram: pedagoger_med_4_ben_och_svans

Organisation Type

  • educational institution: an organisation dedicated to teaching and learning, including primary, secondary, tertiary institutions, and vocational schools

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 had a student who did not want to put on his rubber boots when we went out for a break. The student went into disarray and refused everything. I asked one of my dogs to bring the boots to the student. The student calmed down and put on his boots and went out with us.

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

We as a team work with: healthy social motivation concentration mathematics Swedish Most often when we educators cannot reach the students and motivate them.

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

The dog's proximity to the student provides both security and secretes Oxytocin, which is a lean hormone. The dog also works as a partner and is a non-judgmental partner which gives the student confidence. The dog can also work as a conversation partner if students don´t want to talk with a special person. In many of the situations, as an educator, I only become a spectator, which is a great feeling. Learning is done with the help of the dog.

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

School therapy dogs are another learning tool. Awakens students' motivation and increases security. We are part of the student health team, which consists of the principal, special educator, psychologist, school nurse and curator. Here we get a holistic perspective of the students we need to provide extra support. The teachers make an application for what they want us to work with and strengthen. Our work is documented through evaluations with both students and their head teacher after each period. I am leisure educator and teacher of Swedish and physical training. I have since completed a training aimed at working with dogs as an educational tool.

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)?

Vegalyckan where we work has dared to invest in using dog in school. We develop our way of working all the time and see more and more areas where we can make a difference for the students. We probably differ slightly from others who work with dogs in school. Since all students are allowed to work with the dog in some way during the semester. We work with half classes in tex. values ​​work.

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?

No financial results are relevant as we work at a local school. The results we see are that more students are increasing their well-being, which in turn raises school results. We have increased security among the students as more students turn to us when there is a difficult situation. We are out on a few breaks and this has resulted in students who previously refused to go out, are out with us now. The school has about 230 students all allowed to work with a dog in some way. However, the students get different amount of effort depending on their needs. Special stories are when we helped a group of students to pass the National exams. We were then security, concentration enhancers, motivational enhancers and calming effect. Another example is a student who is unable to cope with the classroom situation and would have chosen to be home instead if we had not been supported.

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

With the school's financial conditions, it is not obvious that we can continue to work. Since we are an extra effort that the school has invested in, thanks to a very interested principal. The politicians have decided that the schools will receive less money in the coming years. To be able to expand the business to more local schools, more school therapy dogs and dog trainers would be required. We have received several visiters and we have been invited and tell about our activities. Newspapers and television have done reports about us.

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

This kind of effort helps to capture the students who otherwise would have failed their schooling. This is a preventive effort that benefits society in the long run. Unfortunately, the development in society is that more and more students find it difficult to cope with their schooling and are excluded from society.

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?

If the school cannot continue to employ us, it is important to find another way to run the project. Then the entire school staff, students and parents see a big profit with this 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?

The school has only the financial conditions that I work with the dogs 75% the rest I work as a leisure educator. Wish we could work 100% as we could help more students.

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

With the help of the prize money, our project could have continued and be 100%. I could also go out and lecture at other schools and help them get started on a similar project.

12. How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Recommended by others


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