JOLIET – The Will County Children’s Advocacy Center’s very own therapy dog, Jackson, recently became the first four-legged friend to be honored by the Exchange Club of Joliet for his work with children who have suffered the trauma of sexual or physical abuse.
Jackson was awarded the “Contributing Service Award” presented to a non-club member at the Exchange Club’s Installation Banquet on June 3 at the Jacob Henry Mansion.
Jackson, accompanied by owners Cheri and Kurt Johnson, received both a plaque and special dog tag designating him as an honorary member of the Exchange Club of Joliet.
Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow established the Will County Children’s Advocacy Center in 1995 to improve the way allegations of child abuse are investigated. In 2012, State’s Attorney Glasgow established the Paws-4-Kids program and asked Cheri Johnson to bring Jackson to the Children’s Advocacy Center to comfort children.
“Jackson has made an invaluable contribution to the mission of the Children’s Advocacy Center,” said State’s Attorney Glasgow. “He provides a calming presence for frightened and vulnerable children who visit the center to be interviewed about allegations of abuse. He’s always available for hugs and pets at the most traumatic time in their lives. I am grateful to the Exchange Club for acknowledging Jackson’s work on behalf of children and for the Club’s long history of support to the community.”
Jackson, a Labrador Retriever, is licensed through Therapy Dog International. He welcomes children when they arrive at the Children’s Advocacy Center and keeps them company while preparations are made for interviews. He is not in the room during interviews, but he stays to play with siblings, and many times parents or caregivers, while they wait for an interview to conclude.
Cheri Johnson, Jackson’s owner and handler, has worked for State’s Attorney Glasgow for the past seven years. She and her husband have made Jackson available at no cost to taxpayers for all the petting, playing and hugging a child can squeeze in before and after a victim-sensitive interview. Studies have shown that dogs and other pets can put people at ease during emotionally stressful situations.
The Exchange Club of Joliet has a long and rich history in the Joliet community, being chartered in 1946. This civic organization is devoted to supporting programs that prevent child abuse and promote patriotism. The club hosts various events each year, including the Annual Spaghetti Dinner to fund its work.
For more information about the work of the Will County Children’s Advocacy Center, please visit: willcountychildrensadvocacy.org or visit on the Will County Children’s Advocacy Center on Facebook. The Children’s Advocacy Center is a partner agency with the United Way of Will County.
Information on the Exchange Club of Joliet can be found at www.jolietexchangeclub.com.