How this furry friend helps Hanover students with their mental health

Posted at 12:52 PM, Feb 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-02 20:18:28-05

HANOVER, Va. — Samantha Ratchford, director of school counseling at Hanover High School, does a lot to connect with her students — especially during the pandemic.

"Obviously, as a school counselor, my heart is with the students and making sure they are thriving in our building," said Ratchford.

But a lot of students enjoy a visit from Ratchford’s best friend, Riley Kensington. She’s a certified therapy dog.

"Even with the masks and social distancing and different protocols, we were seeing students feeling much more isolated and not connected."

That’s where Riley Kensington comes in, with a wagging tail and slobbery kisses.

Some students said she not only helps reduce stress, but even raises their grades.

According to the National Institutes of Health, there is a significant relationship between mental health and academic performance in children.

Riley Kensington is a hairy helper in Hanover… who’s Building Better Minds.

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