The simple fact of sharing moments with our furry friends triggers a cascade of remarkable effects. Stress levels recede, anxiety and depression find themselves in retreat and can even help lower blood pressure. On the mental health side, they can reduce loneliness, increase feelings of social support, and help boost your mood.
Which is why organisations like Huggle Pets in the Community – a partner of ours at CASCO Pet – are so important. Just like us, they’re firm believers in the power of pets; they offer animal assisted therapy and interventions for people with mental health conditions and special educational needs (SEN). The benefit? Children with disabilities develop positive behaviour skills, and adults can combat feelings of isolation.
Based in Wolverhampton, there’s a pet shop, sensory playroom, and free-of-charge community aquarium. We’re proud to have supplied over 100 fish tanks housed in our aquatic racks, as well as a cascade plant display and two coldwater ponds. With soothing yet realistic graphics, dark unit colours, and dim blue lighting, the aquarium makes for a tranquil and ambient space. The environment helps those experiencing anxiety and benefits those with neurodiverse conditions, such as autism.
The animal assisted intervention group programmes, which allow children access to an engaging space where they can hold and interact with animals, are vital for supporting the wellbeing of young people. Not only does such a space encourage a boost of endorphins, but it also creates a relaxing environment where children are able to speak freely and helping to boost their self-esteem.
And it’s not only the local community that have taken part and benefitted from the engaging space. In May 2021, the then Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – now Prince William and Princess Catherine of Wales – attended the Sensory Activity Centre and Community Aquarium, as part of Mental Health Awareness Week. The couple met with children aged eight and nine from the local Loxdale Primary School and took part in one of the animal therapy sessions. The Royal pair interacted with rabbits, a chameleon and bearded dragon, with Will becoming quite taken by a fluffy guinea pig. They were also given a tour around the community aquarium by some of the students to look at the colourful fish.
Talk about animal displays fit for royalty!
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