New Partnership Forged Teaming Children and Service Dogs

The Youth Ambassador Working Dog Program (YAP™), is the recipient of a $1,500 grant from the Joan Angela D’Alessandro Family Foundation. The funds will be used to launch a program at the Jumoke Charter School in Hartford, CT, to educate students about working dogs, including court assistive dogs that help abused children who must testify in court. YAP, a program of Tails of Hope Foundation, seeks to raise awareness among young people about volunteer work and careers in the field of working dogs.

The Joan Angela D’Alessandro Family Foundation is dedicated to increasing safety and raising the quality of life for high-risk children. Joan D’Alessandro was a seven-year-old who was abducted, sexually assaulted and murdered in Hillsdale, NJ, in 1973, while delivering Girl Scout cookies to a neighbor.

As a result of the gift from the D’Alessandro Foundation, YAP is working closely with the Jumoke School, which is located in an impoverished and high-risk community.  As a result of this newly forged partnership, this fall the school will launch a 45-minute daily enrichment program on working K9s as part of a new 15-week trimester inspired by YAP. YAP will provide customized segments on animal welfare and child abuse, both serious community problems. Among the features will be court assistive dogs that help children during testimony in child abuse cases.

“Joan loved dogs, all dogs, and would have especially loved these service dogs. The ability to contribute to a cause that helps both high-risk children and dogs is a wonderful way to honor her,” said Rosemarie D’Alessandro, Joan’s mother and president of the Foundation. Representatives of YAP have been communicating the critical work done by the D’Alessandro Foundation to many other organizations, including the American Kennel Club (AKC).

Since Jumoke is an approved science and technology school, YAP is designing programs to meet the school’s math and science needs; one of the segments being considered features arson and fire-detection dogs and military and law enforcement K9s. In February, 2013, YAP will be featured at an all-school assembly, sponsored by the D’Alessandro Foundation and including its representatives, as well as members of K9 teams. Retired NBA Hall of Famer Mel Davis and Joan Roche of the NBA have been invited to participate.

“This project shows how working dogs impact every part of our society,” said Linda Blick, founder of Tails of Hope Foundation. “We look forward to working with the Joan Angela D’Alessandro Family Foundation in the future in ways that will further benefit and advance our shared missions in protecting children and animals.”

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