We had the pleasure of meeting Jane Boake the founder and chair of COPE Service Dogs recently and the chance to see the various COPE school programs with Service dogs in action.
C.O.P.E. Service Dogs in Training Are Helping Keep Kids in School
It was both incredibly inspiring and humbling to witness how these dogs and the COPE Service Dogs and School Programs are making such an impact even while the dogs are still in training.
COPE has several programs that benefit children and youth while pairing them with the dogs in training. These dogs are making a difference in many lives before they even help their forever humans. The students that work in these programs can take pride in the role they play in enhancing the lives of people with disabilities, who are the future Life Partners of COPE Service dogs-in-training.
COPE Service Dogs and School Programs – Canines in the Classroom
The Canines in the Classroom program is a unique format that gives high school students who face challenges that may prevent them from graduating from high school, an opportunity to learn how to train service dogs.
The program, which takes place during the school day, is linked to the Ontario secondary school curriculum. This means that students can earn high school credits while learning essential literacy and workplace skills.
Students introduce their canine partners to as many as 90 commands which include: opening doors, turning on lights, retrieving out of reach items and helping with dressing – tasks that a person using a wheelchair, for example, might have difficulty doing on their own.
After meeting some of the student trainers currently working in the program and past trainers who now volunteer because they just can’t get enough- you can really see how this program has changed these teenager’s lives.
COPE Reading Buddy Program
The impact on the high school students training these service dogs isn’t the limit of their reach. These dogs also have an impact on younger elementary school students through COPE’s Reading Buddy program.
The Reading Buddy program sees Canines in the Classroom student/dog teams travel to elementary schools to turn their pairs into a trio and help motivate young students to read.
The child is able to spend time with someone who encourages reading and is not critical. After all, a dog won’t judge you if you read too slowly, or you are reading books meant for younger students. By reading to a COPE dog, young students who wouldn’t necessarily be comfortable in reading a single sentence in front of other students or teachers, gain confidence while they practice and build literacy skills in a positive environment.
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