UAB pairs with Hand in Paw to make significant (and snuggly) impact in city classrooms

Hand In Paw will receive the third annual Community Impact Grant awarded by UAB employees through the UAB Benevolent Fund. This nonprofit organization seeks to improve human health and well-being through animal-assisted therapy. The grant will be presented to the organization during a UAB Men’s Basketball game 7 p.m. March 2 in Bartow Arena.

hand in paw STREAMThe $50,000 grant will help fund Hand in Paw’s Petscription for the Classroom program, which gives educators the opportunity to use specially trained handler-and-animal therapy teams and dedicated lesson plans to motivate students in need. Therapy animals can change the atmosphere of a classroom and culture of a school by promoting focus, encouraging physical activity, strengthening social skills, decreasing anxiety and improving speech, language learning and cognition.

"UAB employees have witnessed the benefits of Hand in Paw, whether it’s a therapy team visiting a patient or stress-relief breaks for students during finals,” said Lisa Higginbotham, Benevolent Fund manager. “It’s my belief our employees voted to award the Community Impact Grant to Hand in Paw in order to share with local schools what we have seen to be so effective at UAB.

“Research shows when interaction with an animal is part of the lesson plan, students will work harder toward their personal goals and reach them faster.”

Hand in Paw aims to serve 300 additional students in the first year of the Petscription for the Classroom program by adding six school partners, who will be chosen based on greatest need.

“Research shows when interaction with an animal is part of the lesson plan, students will work harder toward their personal goals and reach them faster,” Higginbotham said.

UAB employees cast their vote for the recipient agency after viewing video presentations from the three finalists.

The Community Impact Grant is an initiative designed to make a real and measurable difference for a challenging community issue. The grant is awarded to one nonprofit or a coalition of nonprofits submitting a proposal that will result in direct impact in education, health and/or economic security and have a lasting impact on the Birmingham community. Magic City Harvest was the inaugural winner and the Birmingham Public Library’s “Teens Engineer Birmingham” program received the grant in 2015.

Learn more about the grant at uab.edu/benfund/support/vote/impact.