For good. For ever.®

Muscles with Russell

Goshen, VA

Amount Requested: $2,000 for General Operating Support

Mission: All children and youth who are in challenge with wellness and nutrition shall have the opportunity to experience enriching and inspiring wellness education activities delivered by a certified, therapy teaching dog.  MWR is committed to providing positive, health and physical role models that will encourage the cognitive and healthy development of children, parents, teachers and community.

Constituents Served: The content that is presented through programming is geared toward each age group that is receiving a presentation. We have presentations that reach preschool through senior citizens. We are able to serve individuals who are disabled, have learning disabilities, autism who face health issues and are at risk behaviors. MWR served approximately 150 children between the ages of 1-5,  135 ages 6-10, and 40 ages 11-15.

Program Overview: A healthy community is one in which individuals adopt healthy behaviors such as eating nutritious foods and being physically active, both of which can prevent or control the devastating effects of obesity. Obesity often results in lost workdays, lower productivity, and negative health outcomes, including diabetes and depression; it also strains private and government health care programs.  Although Virginia’s own outcomes show small but steady progress since 2013, nearly two thirds of the states have reported increased rates of obesity for 2014 — and for many it was the third consecutive year of rising rates.

Muscles with Russell’s programming is built on 28 of the 66 Virginia Foundation Blocks of Early Learning. Through the utilization of “Russell” who is a 3-year old Staffordshire Terrier, who holds his AKC Canine Good Citizenship Certification and his Therapy Dog International Certification, 30-minute presentations are presented to youth through free play and manipulative strategies. Program presentations are motivational and inspire children to make healthier choices in life circumstances. The wellness and statistics for the areas we serve indicate that there is still a rise in childhood obesity. We believe that targeting children beginning at preschool can begin to make healthier choices at a young age can make a long term difference as positive behaviors can be fostered at an early age.

The approach used in programming includes Russell demonstrating how he makes good choices with food. During the program presentation children are asked to initiate physical choices through rhyming and choose the correct food choices. Therapy Dog International provides statistics and studies that show the benefits of using therapy dogs. Muscles with Russell provides preventative health solutions to children who primarily reside in rural communities within Augusta, Highland, Rockbridge, Waynesboro, Allegheny, Albemarle and Culpepper Counties and Covington City. Each child who attends a presentation receives a program book to take home which is age appropriate and understandable on their levels. Program presentations are mainly presented by Sue Ellen Haver who is a member of the Virginia Education Association, a licensed Speech Pathologist/Audiologist, and an endorsed hearing impairment and wellness coach.

Current Operating Budget: $20,000

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