In the late 1990s, Hand in Paw Founder Beth Franklin, who holds an MA in Counseling, and Leigh Ann Harrington, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, coauthored a 12-week humane education curriculum called Pawsitive Living™.
More than two decades later, Hand in Paw is still changing the lives of at-risk teens and preteens through this special program. Designed to foster discussions and encourage participants to identify and express emotions in healthy ways, Pawsitive Living™ teaches kindness, anger management, and safety through engaging lessons, journaling, field trips, and guest speakers.
As demand steadily grew, HIP saw a need to target a younger population as well. In 2012, Hand in Paw purchased the No More Bullying! curriculum and began delivering it in 5-session terms to elementary and middle school children.
In both programs, highly qualified facilitators lead groups of Therapy Teams in teaching youth to cultivate social and emotional learning skills. The animals serve as a bridge of communication to the participants, helping to quickly build rapport with children who may have developed hardened façades due to abuse, behavioral disorders, or other difficult experiences. Youth assist with training animals and in doing so learn to modify their own behavior. Through each week’s interactive group sessions, youth forge bonds that instill compassion, integrity, and respect for themselves and others. Working with supportive volunteers and animals that offer unconditional acceptance helps participants process and express feelings and boosts self-confidence and personal empowerment.