Photo: The Dogist
A Fair Shake for Youth uses the power of registered therapy dogs to help middle school youth build a foundation of empathy and self-esteem, and reduce bullying. As the kids learn to work with the dogs they learn about themselves and each other in ways that open up new possibilities for their lives.
As the economic divide widens and divisiveness grows, the need to foster empathy, understanding, patience, tolerance, and other social and emotional skills is critical.
Increasingly children grow up doubting they are worthy or lovable. Having less than someone else or being different means feeling unlovable or unworthy. Being angry means shutting down or lashing out.
Helping kids see that they are each unique, lovable, loving and worthy is critical so that kids learn how to be successful in school, in the community and in their lives.
A Fair Shake partners with public middle schools and community organizations in the South Bronx, Manhattan and Brooklyn. We offer three 10-week program cycles during the school year as well as a shorter schedule in conjunction with summer camps. Recent, non-school partners include:
Henry Street Settlement
BronxWorks and BronxWorks Betances Community Center
Barrier Free Living Domestic Violence Shelter
Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters
Audrey Hendler founded A Fair Shake in 2010 after working as an instructor for a New York prison dog program. As prisoners cared for and trained puppies preparing for careers as working dogs, the inmates built the critical social and emotional skills they would need to be successful when they reentered the community. Audrey realized that there was a tremendous need and opportunity for dogs to help kids in the same way. If dogs could make it safe for grown men and women to let their guard down and learn who they are and could be, certainly dogs could do the same for kids.
Committed to making a difference, Audrey transitioned from her successful marketing career to build A Fair Shake for Youth.
"One morning Tracy challenged me for one point on a quiz. At first I didn't understand why it was so important to her. But then I realized she would never have advocated for herself a year earlier... before she had raised the yellow lab puppy sitting beside her.
I don't remember if I gave her the point or not, but what I do remember is that when I walked out of the prison that afternoon I thought, how different her life might have turned out if someone had given her a puppy when she was 16 instead of 33."
- Audrey Hendler, Founder and Exec. Director
“Always, no matter what, show everything love because there is no worse feeling than feeling not loved.”
- Briana, Lyons Community School