Focusing on Wellness with the Dogtopia Foundation
October is Emotional Wellness Month. The Dogtopia Foundation considers emotional wellness to be one of the most important elements of the human experience, and a priority within our three pillars of support: service dogs for veterans, youth literacy programs; and employment initiatives for adults on the autism spectrum.
Let’s break down our focus areas to showcase how the Dogtopia Foundation helps promote emotional wellness.
First, the Dogtopia Foundation works alongside each of the Dogtopia daycare centers to raise funds to sponsor a dog for a returned veteran. The sponsorships help our partner organizations cover costs associated with training dogs to be loyal, hard-working and loving companions for military veterans returning home with physical and emotional challenges. Service dogs can be trained to awaken someone from a nightmare, provide a calming presence in a noisy and crowded space, turn on lights, call 911 and various other specialized tasks that can help reduce the symptoms of PTSD and gently guide the veteran to feeling more secure and confident in their daily living activities. By funding the training of these service dogs, the Dogtopia Foundation is helping to heal invisible injuries and restore emotional wellness in veterans who so bravely served our country.
Secondly, the Dogtopia Foundation’s youth literacy pillar centers around a model that involves dedicated human and dog volunteers who provide a non-judgmental and affirming audiences as students grow their confidence and skills at reading and writing. Think about it: when you were a kid, would you rather practice skills in front of the entire class or in the presence of wiggly-tailed dog? The daunting thought of reading out loud is less stressful, and more fun when a furry friend is involved. The Dogtopia Foundation is proud to support SitStayRead, a Chicago-based organization that has been using this model to significantly improve the literacy scores for thousands of students, in kindergarten through 3rd grade. Through this dog centric partnership, we are helping provide children with emotional strength to keep learning, practicing, and reading.
Lastly, the Dogtopia Foundation plays a role in empowering and employing adults on the spectrum through our franchise network. Several Dogtopia locations employ individuals on the spectrum as they are very task-oriented and do well in a work environment that includes a list of to-dos in need of being completed. These individuals have warm hearts, an incredible work ethic, and an affinity for dogs. By employing adults on the spectrum, Dogtopia daycare centers are not only providing stability, but they are also allowing the other employees to learn patience, understanding, and how special those who are on the spectrum can be. Frequently, adults on the spectrum have a difficult time finding work which can lead to stress and feelings of instability. Through our “employment for adults on the spectrum pillar, the Dogtopia Foundation promotes inclusive hiring practices, and emotional wellness and stability for those who are on the spectrum. By empowering all employees to achieve great things, we can create a better culture and a better tomorrow for all.
Emotional wellness means so much more than having a healthy state of mind. It means feeling confident in your skin, able-bodied, and strong. Through our dog-centric pillars of support, we’re doing what we can to help make a difference in the lives of so many who face challenges many of us will never fully comprehend.
If you are interested in supporting our mission “to enable dogs to positively change our world” by making a donation, please click here.