Junior Lauren Langer (’25) achieved the distinction of becoming the youngest person to earn dog handler certification through the Chris Center’s PAWS Team. Her journey towards this accomplishment began over two years ago when she brought her dog, April, home.
Sandra Moreira, Chief Executive Officer of the Chris Center, expressed excitement about Lauren and April joining TCC’s PAWS Therapy Dog Program. “Lauren is a passionate advocate for mental health and believes in the power of the human-animal connection to support wellness. We are impressed by the hard work she put into becoming a registered therapy dog team and admire her commitment to supporting her peers through therapy dog work!”
With Lauren being a mental health advocate, she contacted The Chris Center to find out how to become a registered handler/dog team.
Since then, Lauren has enrolled April in formal obedience classes at Bark Tudor and also worked with TCC trainers to focus on therapy-dog-specific skills while attending multiple workshops and information sessions for dog handlers and dog teams. This past April, Lauren and April passed the evaluation to become an officially registered TCC PAWS Team.
Lauren and April will be present on campus once a month for Mental Health Monday from 8:15 to 9 a.m. in Fairbanks Lobby, offering their support to UHS students, faculty, and staff in their efforts to de-stress before the start of the school day.
The Chris Center offers an innovative approach to teen wellness by connecting adolescents to nature and providing opportunities for human-animal interaction. Their programs are based on research demonstrating the health and wellness benefits of interacting with animals and participating in nature-orientated activities. These benefits include improved self-esteem and mood, increased social interaction, and decreased symptoms of anxiety and depression.