Rainbow Animal Assisted Therapy, the largest and oldest organization of its type in the Chicago metropolitan area, is a volunteer organization committed to using the capabilities and magic of dogs in therapeutic environments, especially with children.
All of our programs develop and build essential skills, give the children a focus other than their disability or disease, and provide a happy respite from the rigors and challenges of their daily lives.
Animal Assisted Therapy
Animal assisted therapy (AAT) is the utilization of animals to facilitate healing and rehabilitation. AAT programs are goal-oriented, unlike programs where an animal and its owner/handler simply visit patients or residents. AAT also differs from programs involving assistance, service, or companion dogs, where animals are placed with individuals as a part of their daily life.
Children with special needs will often perform tasks for trained dogs that they would not ordinarily do for anyone else. Rainbow’s AAT programs build on this unique bond between dogs and humans to meet specific goals.
Rainbow works with organizations to identify goals for children. The goals may be oriented to emotional growth, such as self-control; physical skills, such as reaching for or grasping objects; or growth in skills, such as reading. Rainbow’s dogs provide powerful motivation—and a lot of fun!
Rainbow is active in hospitals and health care facilities, residential centers, schools and libraries, and parks and camps. Our programs are provided without charge, although donations are always appreciated. See Programs for more detailed information.
Rainbow Testing and Training
Our volunteers work with their own dogs. Since Rainbow works with children, many of whom are sick or have special needs, it is vital that the dogs are well-mannered and behaved. Rainbow members must therefore pass a registry test to participate, and are tested annually to ensure that both dogs and handlers retain their abilities to handle potentially difficult situations.
Rainbow offers classes to potential new members to help them build therapy-oriented skills and learn how to handle their dogs effectively in various therapeutic environments. Additionally, regular “drop-in” classes are held for Rainbow volunteers to refresh and hone their skills further. See Classes for more detailed information.
Our members are insured for liability when participating in Rainbow programs.