Tony, like all school chaplains, has a passion for reaching young people in need. The difference with Tony is that he does it with a roomful of reptiles. Now home to two blue-tongued lizards, two long necked freshwater turtles, and one bearded dragon, Tony’s ‘Lizard Lounge’ has become a sanctuary for students at the high school.
“The room is a safe place for children to come and deal with behaviour and anger management issues. The soothing environment sets a presence of love, assurance and security, where all are cared for, including the troubled, at-risk and disengaged.”
More than just a room for ‘troubled youth’, the Lizard Lounge has become an essential resource for students struggling with separation anxiety, friendship and family issues, and more. When the school principal first heard of the idea he was encouraged by his chaplain’s enthusiasm.
“What has amazed me is the power that these unassuming reptiles have on some of our most needy and demanding students. Through the Lizard Lounge, students learn the importance of being responsible and dependable. They have the opportunity to think of someone other than themselves… to be there for something that is dependent on them.”
The school principal has taken to advertising this project as one of the top reasons parents should send their children to his high school.
“I have seen the relationship between parents and children strengthen when a child is brought to school early to feed a lizard or turtle, and I have witnessed how caring for a lizard has assisted in developing fledgling friendships.”
School chaplains like Tony are helping children and young people overcome their obstacles in traditional and creative ways in our schoolyards.