A Zoo-per Day Keeps The Scaries Away!: The Impact of Seeing Animals on At- Risk School-Aged Children


  • Japkaran Saroya MacEwan University


Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) is a common therapeutic practice that involves the use of animals. AAT has benefits to youth’s mental health, including reducing depressive symptoms, anxiety, mood, and improving self-regulation. Many youth in lower socioeconomic statuses may not have access to this therapeutic resource. The present study investigates the effect of seeing animals on at-risk youth's thoughts and moods. Ten at-risk and ten low-risk youth will be assigned to participate in an Animal Activity or Science Activity with their caregiver. At-risk and low-risk status will be determined by an online questionnaire. Before entering and after leaving their assigned activities, the children will fill out the BASC-3 Behavioural and Emotional Screening System to assess their current behavioural and emotional state. After leaving each establishment, the researcher will engage in a qualitative interview with children and their caregivers.. We predict that the animal activity will lower behavioural problems and increase emotional measures in comparison to the science activity, and the impact will be greatest for the at-risk group. Findings from this study could be used to justify and develop community animal- based interventions in lower socioeconomic areas.

Department: Psychology

Faculty Mentors: Dr. Tara Vongpaisal and Dr. Eric Legge