Great story by NBC4 on our Canine Companion Twinkle!

We hope you all caught the great recent story by WCMH-NBC4 about our Westerville City Schools support dog, Twinkle!

To tell the story, WCHM-NBC4 Meteorologist McKenna King visited with Twinkle, her handler Miss Noelle, and students at Westerville South High School.

She detailed some of the things Twinkle does at South and around the school district, and helped spread the word about the Canine Companions program.

Westerville Education Challenge funded Twinkle’s initial Canine Companions training and placement at South in 2022, and funds her yearly care costs, which include ongoing refresher training.

THANK YOU to all our friends at the Channel 4 morning newscast – McKenna, anchors Monica Day and Matt Barnes, and traffic reporter Kristine Varkony.

McKenna even shared Twinkle’s Instagram handle.

Here’s McKenna’s story and the great Channel 4 video:

Twinkle the Canine Companions facility dog helps students at local high school

By McKenna King, WCMH4-Nexstar Media Inc.

WESTERVILLE, Ohio (WCMH) — High school can be a stressful time for students, and opening up about those stressors to an adult isn’t always easy. So, imagine having a dog on campus, to help you work through those feelings.

At Westerville South High School, Twinkle the facility dog is doing just that.

Twinkle is here as an additional support for our students, to kind of help them feel safe, to regulate, and to be able to access some of the tools they need in order to be successful,” said Noelle Spriestersbach, who is the WSHS mental health specialist, school social worker, and Twinkle’s handler.

Twinkle and Noelle are one of 33 Canine Companions active facility dog teams in Ohio.

Twinkle greets her fellow classmates with a wagging tail, putting a smile on everybody’s face. But her purpose on campus is far greater.

Noelle and Twinkle are helping students who have had negative past experiences with dogs, and they’re also helping regulate students who are feeling high levels of stress.

“She will come over, she’ll visit, she’ll put her head in their lap, can do a lap command where she puts the weight of her top body in their lap,” said Spriestersbach.

She picks up dropped items, offers tissues, and uses her calm demeanor to help her classmates feel safe.

“Petting Twinkle, and just being there with Twinkle kind of provides a stress relief, even though it’s not actual talking,” said Noor Benlemlih, Senior Class Vice President at WSHS.

Twinkle helps with engagement in school, too, helping students associate positive thoughts with attendance and learning.

“I have kids who are like, coming up with support plans, or safety plans, and like, Twinkle’s Instagram is on them, or Twinkle’s on them, cause that connection with her feels so safe, and loving, and supportive. It’s powerful,” said Spriestersbach.

Oh yes, Twinkle also has an Instagram. She’s spreading positivity in person, and online.

“She’s added a level of support and success even for some of our kids, that I couldn’t do in the same way without her,” said Spriestersbach.

According to Canine Companions, facility service dogs impact around 5-million people every year, whether that’s in a school setting, working with occupational therapists, child life specialists, forensic interviewers, etc.

If you want more information on facility dogs, and perhaps to find out whether or not your facility would be a good fit for one, visit Canine Companions’ website, here.

To follow Twinkle on Instagram, click here.


About WEC

Where everyone belongs – Because We Care

The mission of Westerville Education Challenge is to help create school cultures where every student feels safe, supported and celebrated.

We do this by raising awareness and funds for Social-Emotional Learning initiatives and programming in Westerville City Schools.

Contact us about how you can get involved at Contact | Westerville Education Challenge.

Click to see full NBC4 coverage