We know that the COVID-19 pandemic, the resulting stay-at-home orders, school and youth program closures and distance learning have been very difficult for young people. This is the perfect time to promote social emotional learning in response to the negative impacts of these events.
Visits by or the presence of a comfort dog would ease these impacts for young people, both in school and afterschool programs. However, COVID-19 restrictions make it impossible to schedule visits by a comfort dog. Thus, we are working to create videos with a virtual talking comfort dog that young people can access online. My Pal, Luke is available for free to youth programs, educators, as well as parents and other caregivers.
My Pal, Luke is designed to address many social emotional elements through his words and questions, including a check-in with kids. Luke also reads his favorite books with kids and educates them on how they make sense of current events.
We are currently producing episodes of My Pal, Luke pro-bono. We are seeking funds to support this project going forward and outreach to raise awareness of this free resource.