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Lesehund

Nominated 2021

Country: Austria

Region: Upper Austria

Sector: Civil Society / Social Economy

Fields of action: Poverty, Non-formal education

Project owner: Caritas für Menschen in Not (Caritas for people in need)

Responsible person: Mag.a Bettina Falzeder, MA

Website: Weblink

Challenge

Literacy and the ability to read are fundamental life skills. However, 25% of Austrian children and teenagers are at risk of failing to develop these key abilities. The socio-economic status of their family and the COVID-19 crisis also play a major role in a child’s reading development. 

Idea

Lesehund not only improves reading skills for children and teenagers, but also strengthens other essential elements in their development. The reading assistance dog also provides relaxation from stress and boosts their confidence. This positive motivation makes reading fun and helps children to read (aloud) without fear and stress.

Actors

Children and teenagers of all reading levels practice reading in a familiar setting. The programme works in collaboration with Caritas OÖ (Caritas of Upper Austria); participants are placed in the programme from Caritas institutions.

Impact

Reading with an assistance dog increases the child’s reading and literacy skills. The programme also boosts the children’s and young people’s self-confidence. Lesehund is also expanding to more educational institutions.

Transfer

Lesehund originated in the U.S. and is currently implemented in Germany and Switzerland. The programme is also supported by scientific evidence. It is possible to adapt the programme to more regions in Austria and other countries. The programme in Upper Austria is also planning to expand into extra-curricular activities and social services.