North Central News

Delivering love to at-risk children

As Valley children prepare to head back to school, many organizations are providing new backpacks, pencils and crayons. However, Gabriel’s Angels is addressing other needs — the emotional and mental health of children and youth through pet therapy.

A student reads to Ruby, a Gabriel’s Angels pet therapy team member, as part of a program that helps teach children core behaviors (submitted photo).

Gabriel’s Angels pet therapy teams visit Title I schools, crisis nurseries, domestic violence and homeless shelters, all in an effort to intervene in children’s lives and enhance their emotional and behavior development by teaching core behaviors — attachment, confidence, self-regulation, affiliation, empathy, tolerance and respect.

The organization says that Arizona ranks 40th in the nation in child and youth welfare and has a higher poverty rate than many states. Poverty conditions breed substance abuse and domestic violence, negatively impacting a child’s development. Many children are suffering from not only the impacts from what they face at home, but also the state of the world.

Gabriel’s Angels currently has 120 registered pet therapy teams serving over 2,300 children annually through 120 schools and partner agencies in counties across Arizona, including Maricopa. For as little as $100, two students can receive an entire year of pet therapy visits this school year to help them be successful.

For more information about Gabriel’s Angels programs, or to volunteer, visit www.gabrielsangels.org.

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