Liz Povah:Woodvale Secondary College: Westfield Local Heroes 2019

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Liz Povah:Woodvale Secondary College: Westfield Local Heroes 2019

Educator spreads wellbeing with three positive pooches

Generous. Reliable. Kind

When students at Woodvale Secondary College are feeling sad, stressed or lonely, they go to the school’s wellness centre for some unconditional love from a trio of friendly greyhounds.

Boots, Rush and Archie are terrific dogs, and it takes them no time to put a smile on the students’ faces, says educator Liz Povah, who started the Positive Pooches Program at the school three years ago.

“The students arrive anxious about whatever is going on in their lives and walk away feeling much better. Students who had found attending school a challenge now attend full-time and happily,” says Liz.

“The greyhounds have also given socially isolated students a means of connecting to others over their shared affection for the dogs,” she says.

“It is a wellbeing initiative that has made such a difference for everyone at the school.”

Liz feels proud to have been voted a Westfield Local Hero and humbled by the support from the community. But her main reward is seeing how much joy and support the dogs bring to the students and staff.

As an educator with 30 years’ experience, Liz believes schools can help students, staff and the community to embrace positive psychology. This is why she was instrumental in developing the wellness centre, where students also learn mindfulness, relaxation techniques and the power of positive thinking.

She has helped other institutions introduce similar programs, and a Department of Education video about the Positive Pooch Program has gone viral.

“I am a passionate advocate for greyhounds and positive education, and with this program, I get to combine both,” says Liz, who volunteers for Greyhound Adoptions WA.

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation. The school will use its grant to improve the area in which the students engage with the dogs.

“It is going to make a huge difference,” says Liz. ”I am also hoping to use some of the money to put together resources for other schools that want to implement similar programs.”

For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here.