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05/16/2018 - A Child’s Best Friend: Animal Assisted Therapy Workshop at Negba

Negba’s integrated approach to advance the children in its care utilizes a variety of methods and techniques. Once a week, a group of kids ages 7-9 from Negba’s Franck Levy After-School Home in Beersheva attend an Animal Assisted Therapy workshop, aimed at strengthening their social and emotional development. The children interact with and care for rabbits, snakes, birds and other animals through a cooperative project with the City of Beersheva.

“It’s so much fun to play with the animals,” said Yahav, 7. “I love their soft touch, and to hold and pet them. I would sleep there if I could!”

The workshop helps Yahav and others develop a warm relationship with physical contact, and they learn to cope with natural life processes, such as when some of the animals became ill, gave birth to offspring, and even died throughout the duration of the project.

The children’s abilities to listen and cooperate also develop through the interactive workshop, since they must learn the needs of the animals, and then take care of them together in pairs. Eden, 9, is one example of a child who honed a sense of empathy: “I enjoy feeding them and making them happy and comfortable,” she remarked. “I like to take care of them and to clean their cages so they will feel good. Someone has to take care of them.”

By empowering the children to care for the animals, the workshops greatly bolster their self-confidence, improve communication skills and teach them to be responsible individuals. With improved overall social and emotional capacities, they are equipped with skills to forge a more positive future.

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