Girl Scout develops program pairing children with and therapy dogs – w/ video

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Rachel Blackman, screenshot taken from NBC

Fairfax, CA – A local teen has created a program geared towards pairing children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and therapy dogs in hopes of both receiving a top Girl Scout award and serving her community.

Rachel Blackman, an 18-year-old Scout from Fairfax, decided to embark on the project in an effort to enable children with the disorder to receive support in training their newly acquired therapy dogs. Blackman had been inspired by her cousin Joseph who is on the spectrum and ultimately saw the need to create an avenue through which youngsters could train the dogs effectively while being provided with the support they need.

As a result the Jump for Joy program was developed, running 6 week classes at the Marin Society in Novato. There, the children are taught various activities such as leading the canines across walkways and dog tunnels as well as going over jumps. However while it has been a success, Blackman admits to having faced various obstacles when it first launched but that tweaking it has enabled her to formulate a course that she believes will continue to be beneficial when her tenure ends. She asserts:

“I need to make this happen for anybody that it could happen for.”

Source: Garvin Thomas on the NBC Bay Area news site: Fairfax Teen’s Girl Scout Project Brings Together Dogs, Children With Autism