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Disabled adults experience the healing touch of animals for the first time at a therapy session

The Paws & Hooves Project by Wag-ville and Diya Foundation in Bengaluru hosted an interactive session for adults with disabilities where they were introduced to animal therapy. Almost 22 adults spent time with therapy dogs and horses which helped them to improve their fine motor and cognitive skills.

Paws & Hooves Project by Wag-ville is a Bengaluru-based organisation that provides animal therapy to both children and adults with disabilities. Started by Subhadra Cherukuri and Kishan Vasudevan, the project is expanding to a larger audience.

Last week, they teamed up with NGO Diya Foundation to host an interactive session where adults with disabilities spent time with dogs and horses. Over 20 adults were present.

Diya Foundation works with adults with different disabilities like autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome and multiple disabilities. They aim to empower them with vocational training and activities. The interactive sessions with dogs and horses came as a surprise and thrill, especially for those who were exposed to animals for the first time.

We are glad that we could collaborate with Diya Foundation for such a beautiful interactive session. We made the youngsters spend time with our therapy dogs Bella and Peaches. They petted and spent a lot of time with the dogs. Initially, most of them were skeptical and scared to get astride the horses. But by the time it ended, all of them had done a ride. We used the interactive board games from Happy Tailz that helps in developing cognitive and motor skills. -Subhadra Cherukuri, Co-founder, The Paws & Hooves Project

Each adult was accompanied by a volunteer so they felt comfortable. There were board games played with the animals as well to improve fine motor and cognitive skills.

At the sessions, members were grouped into teams and each team got to spend time with dogs and horses. This was the first time the adults were exposed to horses so that took some time. "Their enthusiasm and happiness after spending time with our therapy dogs and horses was lovely to witness, says Cherukuri.

The Paws & Hooves Project plans to tie up with other NGOs and organisations that work with people with disabilities. That way, they can create an awareness about benefits of animal therapy.

"Our students have had interactive sessions with dogs before. But horses are a first time. Going to stables and touching a horse and then riding it was a thrilling experience for these youngsters. They came back to Diya and told their friends about it. This time, we could only take 22 people. Next time, we plan to include more, said Suman John, from the Diya Foundation.

Over the years, research has shown the wonderful benefits of animal therapy for people with disabilities. Animal therapy is widely practised in the West and it is well established that the unconditional love shown by animals can bring about remarkable transformation in a person with disability.

ALSO READ: Some animal-love at The Paws & Hooves Project is just the kind of therapy doctors recommend

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