Welcome to "Little Red Hen and Friends." We hope you find ideas and activities to share with children of all ages and abilities.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Meet the Handlers and the Animals. (Team Keenan)

It takes a lot of work and preparation to get the animals and materials ready for an Animal Assisted Activity(AAA) or Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) Activity.  In respect for the animals best interest, the handler must understand the animal and it's behaviors.  The animals used in these activities are our pets and are well loved and cared for.  Many hours have been spent with the animals in socializing and training them to become certified pet partners. All are cared for by a veterinarian.   The following are handlers and animals that are currently in programs working towards certification.

Team Keenan:

That's me,  Jennifer Keenan.  I am a Special Educator, Assistive Technology Specialist, and I have received a certificate in Animal Assisted Therapy.  I work with children with duel sensory impairments and multiple disabilities.  I strongly believe in the human-animal-nature bond and there is nothing I enjoy more then spending my time with all of those elements combined. 

Incorporating technology into AAT activities. 

Living out the dream of swimming with the sharks... well they were whale sharks but still really cool.

Spending time with Rooney our Goldendoodle is one of my favorite pastimes.  Rooney has made many appearances showing off his excellent communication skills.  He is great at using his voice output device to ask for "more treats."

This is my husband Jay (aka World's biggest Steeler Fan)
Jay does all the behind the scene chores,  from caring for the animals to  building shelters and mainly supporting me.

             Jay also attends many of the Animal Assisted Activities as the handler to take care of the pet partner which allows me to interact with the student.               

This is "O" our oldest.  Getting ready for an Animal Assisted Activity is definitely a family affair.  Before we take any of the activities to the site, we always field test them at home.  O is trying out a natural dog treat recipe that can be created by students with special needs using assistive technology.  These activities are part of a series of vocational and life skill lessons we use to give students the skills for employment.  O is a high school student and an All Star Cheer leader.  She volunteers at the Humane Society and supports the Special Olympics.  She is also a member of the 4-H where she gains skills needed for caring for and handling the animals.

O cares for her chicken Josephine
O is an animal handler but more importantly she is a peer mentor.
O is one of the main handlers for the bunnies.

"Meet "A"   A inspires to be a teacher one day traveling to Africa and China before returning to the USA to open her own Animal Assisted Therapy farm.  A has a wide range of experience from volunteering at the Humane Society, being a 4-H member, and participating in "Paws for Braille," as a peer partner. A spends hours adapting materials for all of the Animal Assisted Activities.  A trains Rooney the Goldendoodle and is the main handler for her rabbit "Snickers."   A is extremely well versed in technology and creates many of the computer stories about the animals that are used by the students.  She not only lends her own "child's" voice to the program and voice output devices she also has created long lasting bonds with many of the students she works with.  A is learning sign language and has worked with many students that have duel sensory impairments.  A is always willing to try something new, and will always choose the animal that needs the most patience and understanding to work with like the alpaca Atlas.

A at an animal therapy event with her rabbit "Snickers."

One of A's passions.
 A creating a Switch It Maker animal story.
 A is an excellent photographer and is very creative.  She has a clear understanding of the adaptations needed to help students with special needs participate in an activity.  A will spend extra time adapting materials so her friends can share her love of animals as well.
Training Rooney to "Jump!"
Our newest family member "Malu."

Meet "E."   E has volunteered at several Assisted Animal Activities.  He is one of our main chicken handlers.  He shares knowledge as a peer partner to students that have visual impairments and multiple disabilities.  He is great at giving his peers that extra tactual experience they need to "visualize" the parts of a chicken.  E is a 4-H member and spends his free time playing basketball and lacrosse.  He is very good at helping me come up with active ideas for Animal Therapy such as the switch adapted baseball toss and the jumps for the Alpaca obstacle course.  E is interested in the Armed Services and would like to own a K9 companion one day.

Meet "N."  N is E's identical twin brother.  N is also a 4-H member, plays basketball and lacrosse and has a passion for art.  N has participated in several animal assisted activities.  N has created stories and has lent his voice to many animal related computer activities.  N has been donating to the elephant "Tara" at the Elephant Sanctuary since he was a little boy. He anxiously awaits updates on her. He is very nurturing and caring with the animals.   N and his brother take care of the chickens and the dog.  N ironically shows an Alpaca at the Farm fair with the exact same name as him.

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