Okanagan Boys and Girls Club Study

Special workshop sessions were held in partnership with the Okanagan Boys and Girls club. The sessions typically ran as a six-week workshop, that was designed to help children aged 5-12 years old develop and practice their social-emotional skills, including introductions, meaningful compliments, empathy, and self-awareness. Each session began with a class discussion on the skills the children were to work on that day, followed by practice in a supportive, non-judgmental environment created by B.A.R.K. dogs and volunteers.

The program ran for two years, thanks to a generous grant from the Telus Thompson Okanagan Community Board.

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Okanagan Boys and Girls Club by the Numbers


Sessions held


Total participants 

“I enjoyed watching the kids put the skills we taught them into practice in novel situations with strangers and watching them ‘come out of their shells’.”

Nicole Harris,
MA alumna (’20), B.A.R.K. volunteer

“The best part of the program is witnessing the children’s excitement. The children are building confidence right before our eyes.”

Paula Buchanan,
program area leader, for the Okanagan Boys and Girls Club
(source: Vernon Morning Star)

Related Publications and presentations

Harris, N. M. & Binfet, J. T. (2022) Exploring Children’s Perceptions of an After-School Canine-Assisted Social and Emotional Learning Program: A Case Study. Journal of Research in Childhood Education.

Harris, N. M., & Binfet, J. T. (2020, September). A case study exploring children’s experience participating in a canine-assisted social-emotional learning program. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Society for Anthrozoology, Liverpool, UK.

McKay, C., Harris, N., & Binfet, J. T. (2018, July 4). Building confidence through K9’s: A pilot program to build children’s leadership through interactions with therapy canines. Symposium at the annual meeting of the International Society for Anthrozoology, Sydney, Australia. Therapy canines: Screening and assessment, safeguarding well-being, and innovative programming.

Study with B.A.R.K.

Interested in pursuing a Master of Education or Master of Arts in Education with Dr. Binfet and B.A.R.K.? Learn more about Okanagan School of Education graduate studies.