The “Pets for People” campaign aims to help inspire and encourage families all over the globe to discover in the benefits pets can have on people with autism spectrum disorder.
Fourways, South Africa – Mars Africa partnered with Autism South Africa and Woodrock Animal Rescue Shelter to launch the first “Pets for People” campaign. The awareness campaign aims to help inspire and encourage families all over the globe to discover in the benefits pets can have on people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Woodrock Animal Rescue is one of the oldest independent domestic animal rescue centres in South Africa. The animal rescue foundation was founded in 1992 by Nicholas and Estelle (Stella) Meldau, whose focus, passion and drive afforded their animal rescue vision to become a reality. The rescue centre originated in the suburban area of Woodmead and Khyber Rock. Hence the name Woodrock but they are now based on 8.5 hectares in the beautiful Hennops River Valley, 25 minutes north from Fourways Johannesburg on the R511 Hartbeespoort Road.
“I haven’t bonded with Nelly like this in a very long time. It was a lovely day,” said David, Nelly’s father. “Thank you to everyone; we had a fantastic day,” added Khumbelele’s father. These were some of the sentiments from the first “Pets for People” awareness campaign.
The awareness campaign saw families get an opportunity to discover the impact of pet ownership on children with ASD. Through guided therapy sessions and other group activities, autistic children and their families were able to experience the benefits of pet interaction first-hand. Five (5) families were invited to the first session which took place on 03 April 2019. The second session which occurred on 25 April 2019 multiplied, attracting seven (7) other families.
“Globally, at Mars, we are committed to exploring the health and wellness benefits of pet ownership. The first two sessions showed us how pets could make a difference to a child’s confidence levels, they help reduce anxiety, improve communication and help families come together and participate in more activities,” explains, Tumi Masekela, Corporate Affairs Director for Mars Africa.
The ‘Pets for people’ Campaign will have at least one session per month inviting families to bond and adopt pets from Woodrock Animal Rescue Shelter. “Pets provide unconditional and nonjudgmental love,” says, Stella Meldau, founder and Managing Director of Woodrock Animal Rescue.
“A pet can decrease depression, stress and anxiety, they can lower blood pressure, improve immunity and even decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke. We are pleased to see how our furry friends at Woodrock offer some much relief from everyday struggles for families.”
“We are extremely excited about this programme as we have seen the benefits not only for children with autism but their entire families from interactions and love from family pets,” continues National Director of Autism South Africa, Sandy Klopper.
The constant evaluation will be conducted throughout the campaign so that the families can see measurable behaviour improvement in the children.