The G’vaot Yishuv is a network of approximately 40 families whom are involved in the Sadna Special Needs institute located there. The campus consists of living quarters for the Special Needs adults, classrooms, a sport field, horse stables and corrals, bakery, Café, wood workshop, and synagogue.
Over the years we have discovered that many students love nature and animals. Dogs have always played a central role in helping to make an emotional and personal contact with our students. Many of the students who come to us arrive due to behavioral issues or various mental disabilities. They are in need of a sense of connection and to be able to accept responsibility, which working with dogs can provide. After seeing that students were able to achieve and make tremendous progress caring for dogs, we decided to develop a project and build a curriculum with a focus on this type of interaction between our students and animals.
This program also gives participants the opportunity to learn skills for a potential career in working with animals whether as dog handlers or trainers. Some of the students will be able to apply this knowledge and training to their army careers such as the IDF’s K9 unit.
In terms of the present, we see how working with dogs provides essential emotional therapy for the students, and we have already witnessed improvements in their physical and cognitive wellbeing. The project is also unique in that it allows the students to participate at various levels based on their abilities.
Maintaining a dog kennel and working with the animals opens doors for this community with disabilities allowing them to achieve while also providing skills towards employment opportunities.
We are interested in growing this project so that 40 individuals with disabilities (up from the current 12) can take part in this project in order to work with dogs, receive the animal therapy they need, while learning skills for the future. Currently we have participants from ages 12-35 in the program with various mental, behavioral, and developmental disabilities.
Staffers conduct pedagogical meetings with each participant in order to develop a plan of action, which will allow them to most benefit from the program, and provide the best means of help in order to integrate them into society.
In order for the project to succeed we need to adapt to accommodate expansion. A fenced in yard with grass is needed as a physical space for dog training activities and to maintain the safety of the participants. The cost is $12,350.
- Therapy and training sessions $1,550 per month for six months ($9,300 total) which will be led by a world-renowned dog trainer who also specializes in working with those who care for dogs
- Training equipment $7,400 (a one-time fee)
Total project cost – $29,050