Westminster School is taking a proactive approach to supporting student wellbeing by introducing a new member to its campus community in Term 2.
Meet Minnie, a Golden Retriever cross Mini Poodle, who will be joining the school as its official Wellbeing Dog. In partnership with the Dogs Connect Program, Minnie will play a vital role in the school’s wellbeing program, offering support to students as they navigate their educational journey.
Minnie’s weekly timetable will include various activities designed to engage and assist students. She will spend time in classrooms, be present in the school’s dedicated wellbeing area, provide companionship to students who require support, and enjoy opportunities for exercise and play. By participating in these activities, Minnie will contribute to fostering a positive and nurturing environment at Westminster School.
The addition of a Wellbeing Dog aligns with Westminster’s holistic approach to wellness, encompassing the school’s core values of resilience, courage, curiosity, kindness, and inclusivity. This comprehensive strategy, known as Wellbeing@West, integrates principles from positive psychology and the science of wellbeing into the classroom curriculum.
Liz Collins, Head of Wellbeing at Westminster School, has played a crucial role in establishing the partnership with the Dogs Connect program and welcoming Minnie to the school.
We have always placed a strong focus on wellbeing for students and have seen growing research around the positive impacts that a wellbeing dog can make in a school setting, especially for children who are working through anxiety or trauma.
“Research has shown that dogs can help children with emotional regulation, social connection and communication, which will support pedagogy and enhance students learning experience. We are confident Minnie will become an important and much-loved part of the Westminster community,” says Liz.
Dogs Connect will work closely with Westminster and a core group of staff members to ensure a smooth integration of Minnie into the school environment. Through their program, Dogs Connect provides the necessary training to prepare a wellbeing dog to join the school community and become a daily presence on campus.
Minnie’s journey at Westminster School began with her first visit in mid-April. The school has taken a gradual approach to introducing Minnie to the community, initially starting with half-day sessions and gradually progressing to full days. When not on duty, Minnie will reside with a member of the school staff off-campus, allowing her to enjoy the comforts of being a cherished “family dog.”
Westminster’s Wellbeing program empowers students to identify and develop their character strengths, enhance self-esteem and confidence, and equips teaching staff with tools to support students effectively. All wellbeing activities at the school are thoughtfully designed to nurture the elements of PERMA+ (Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and Accomplishment, in addition to Physical Activity, Nutrition, Sleep, and Optimism).
With the arrival of Minnie, Westminster School is reinforcing its commitment to student welfare and ensuring that every student feels supported, cared for, and equipped to thrive both academically and emotionally.