Providing services and emotional support to child victims experiencing abuse, abandonment or neglect, and their families, is the 24/7 job of the multi-disciplinary team of staff and volunteers at the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center (ECCAC) with locations in Walton and Okaloosa counties. There are extensive play therapy rooms and lovable therapy dogs on hand to work with the kids, too. And now, there is a bunny to help.
Bailey is the soon to be therapy bunny. The litterbox-trained bunny can be found hopping around making friends and comforting the kids at the DeFuniak Springs center. Bailey belongs to therapist Shannon Garcia and is a 4-year old, 9-pound French Lop bunny from England that she brought over to the U.S. when she returned with her husband to live here.
Friendly, highly socialized and specially trained rabbits can help reduce blood pressure and stress. They motivate people to communicate, connect, laugh, and move. Rabbits can help people build trust and healthy relationships.
“Bailey is very affectionate and playful, she loves attention, and licks people to show her friendliness,” said Garcia, who has a masters degree in social work. “I can’t even put into words how much I enjoy my role at ECCAC, and how important it is for me and Bailey to be a part of the healing process with the children.”
If you want to support abused and neglected kids in the local community, and visit with Bailey, front desk volunteers are needed at the Pierce Family Children’s Advocacy Center to fill three shifts a day. A short volunteer training class is scheduled for 3 p.m. Sept. 26 at the DeFuniak Springs center. For further information about volunteering, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 850-833-9237, ext. 256.