Calgary Special Pup’s Day Camp presents… Dog Days Summer Camp
Special Pups Day Camp is a one day, 4 hour day camp supported by Jumpstart, Calgary Cerebral Palsy Kids and Families, and clever canines. Our objective is to provide a safe and fun environment for children with special needs to express themselves and communicate through the healing companionship of dogs. This program is open to all children with a variety of disabilities.
I am so thankful to be able to share how Special Pup’s Day Camp came about. When I was 3 my little cousin, Sarah was born. I was so thrilled to have a little cousin to play dress up with. Two years later she was diagnosed with Autism. No one in our family really knew what that meant or how it was going to affect her life. As I grew up, I saw the challenges Sarah faced for being “different”. Our closeness also allowed me to be present for some of the challenges she overcame and barriers she broke through. Not only is she a talented painter, phenomenal swimmer, and track enthusiast she also has a strong connection with animals. Nothing gets her talking more than a “soft” and “cute” puppy. Seeing Sarah interact with my own dogs was where the idea sparked from. I had always wanted to make a small difference in the world and this was a dream where I could.
One day I was given the opportunity with the support of my company, Marks to present my idea of a special needs dog training day camp to my corporate charity, and Jumpstart loved it! From there I presented it to a partner in our community, Calgary Cerebral Palsy Kids and Families… and they loved it too! With their help we were able to get this program started.
How it works:
Trainers from clever canines will pair up your child with their pre-screened and assigned “dog for the day” and volunteer companion. This partnership allows a friendship to grow throughout the day and a bond to be formed. From there the child is taught safety, greetings, tricks, massage, and has a chance to showcase the dog’s knowledge through a fun game.
Now for my idea... Jumpstart is only able to fund one camp/month for children ONLY. Thanks to a local donation we are able to create an "adults afternoon" for adults with special needs. But this is just the beginning.
I would love the opportunity to create a summer camp for both children AND adults to enjoy a 5 day week of dog training, games, friendship, and fun.
Who Will it Benefit?
At Special Pup's we like to focus on the silver lining. The majority of the children and adults that walk through our doors face major challenges on a daily basis, but at Special pup's that doesn't define them. We all love dogs, we all love having fun, and for those three hours - we are all one big family. The smiles on the kids faces speak volumes. The giggles dogs pull out by giving goofy wet kisses fills the room. We are surrounded by compassion, understanding, and positivity. Originally when I started this initiative I was thinking about the affect it will have on these kids. But through the past 6 camps I have witnessed the pride in parents faces, the bonds they are able to create with other parents, and the hearts of our volunteers that were touched so deeply. Special Pup's is hands down the best thing I have ever done, and I would like to take it one step further to help more members of the special needs community.