Soul Friends’ mission to “heal the hearts of the children one wagging tail at a time” drives our daily work in serving children. We believe in the power of the love from an animal friend to help children cope with major life circumstances, to help change behavior and to try something new to bring about hope. As a nonprofit that stands strongly behind our mission, we also believe we need to consistently demonstrate our program effectiveness through research efforts.
Our humane education program, WE LOVE ANIMALS! demonstrated an increased in humane perceptions in first grade schoolchildren after 6 sessions of curriculum based programs that incorporated animals. Our results were published in a scholarly journal , Society and Animals.
Nicoll, K, Trifone, C and W. E. Samuels, , ” An In-class Humane Education Program Can Improve Young Students’ Attitudes toward Animals” Society and Animals 16 (2008) 45-60.
Our Heeling Hearts group psychotherapy program that incorporates the narrative of an animal’s life to help children coping with grief, loss, trauma and soci0-emotional challenges has consistently demonstrated an improvement in participant’s sense of hopefulness. In a collaborative study with Southern CT State University’s Department of Public Health, the group program demonstrated improved empathy and a positive trend in peer relationships in a group of teenagers attending an anger mangement group at a Connecticut techinical high school. Thanks to our partnership with the Laura J Niles Foundation and the James H. Napier Foundation, Soul Friends received a community impact grant from the Annie E Casey Foundation to build up our group program for the children of New Haven.
Our Come, Follow Me! program is a six session group program of social skills building and dog training for special needs children. Based on the principles of behavioral therapies and clicker training, Come, Follow Me! has provided a heartwarming service to children in central Connecticut. In one study, we demonstrated that with incorporation of TAG teach with the clicker and animal assisted intervenitons, children demonstrated increased eye contact and body awarenss ( Nicoll and Trifone, poster session presented at the First International Applied Behavioral Analysis Conference on Autism).
Our work would not be possible without support from our generous funders. A special thanks to :
The James H. Napier Foundation
The Laura J Niles Foundation
Planet Dog Foundation
Ronald McDonald House Chairities of New England
The Meriden-Wallingford Mental Health Collaborative
The Annie E. Casey Foundation
The Cuno Foundation
The Petit Family Foundation