United States

Therapy Donkeys Visit Philadelphia Students With Special Needs

'They are trained in a rigorous process to work with kids.'

A smile and a caress in a different way. That was part of what students wth special needs at Edison High School in Philadelphia received through donkey therapy on Monday.

It was the visit of two of the eight donkeys trained to deal with children with disabilities in the nation.

"They are trained in a rigorous process to work with kids. They have to be certified just like dogs in non-threatening matters," Jeff Gross, the school's special education teacher, said.

The teacher explained that as part of their education, the students are provided with different types of therapy, including the animals.

"The therapy animal is great with kids in the autistic spectrum," Gross said. "I work with special needs students that have severe none verbal skills. The animals are great to promote social skills and relaxation."

The students enjoyed petting the donkeys and being able to share the experience with their peers in a safe environment.

"Some are scared but these animals are trained," Gross said. "We don’t force them to do anything. It is a special moment as for a teacher when this kids pet the animals. It melts your heart." 

The therapy donkeys run through institutions around the United States and must be certified to be close to children and adolescents. This certification is rigorous and required by the authorities.

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