Chenango Forks Elementary to use ‘Gizmo Therapy Dog’ to teach about mental health

Published: Aug. 22, 2023 at 1:58 PM EDT
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CHENANGO FORKS (WBNG) -- With school starting in a few weeks, mental health issues among students have been increasing throughout the past years, according to Chenango Forks Elementary Social Worker Stephanie Moochler.

Moochler said the issues increased during and after the peak of the COVID-19 Pandemic, but the district is looking at ways to alleviate student mental health.

At Chenango Forks Elementary, the school is using a platform that is used nationwide called the “Gizmo Therapy Dog” curriculum with students. They are able to introduce mental health to the students starting in kindergarten and Gizmo will talk to students about coping skills and ways students can improve their own mental health.

“I think we’ve seen a big change post-pandemic world with students coming down to school, especially to the elementary level,” said Moochler. “Some of them haven’t really had the opportunities to make friends or go out into the community.”

Moochler said this year, Chenango Forks Elementary is trying to incorporate leadership skills into the curriculum.