YAP’s First Anniversary Brings Milestones into Focus
In February 2012, Finding One Another: Courage Beyond Measure™ launched its Youth Ambassador K9 Career Program (YAP™) at the Alfred G. Waters Middle School in Middletown, DE. YAP’s mission is to educate youth about career and volunteer opportunities in the field of working dogs, as well as information on animal welfare and responsible ownership.
In the past year, YAP has educated more than 1,000 students in Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia, at schools ranging from affluent to disadvantaged. An Advisory Board has been established to monitor and guide YAP’s development. The Board has begun to develop a turnkey curriculum for schools and youth service organizations to use across the country. Funding by the Joan Angela D’Alessandro Memorial Foundation has been secured to support the program in a high-risk community in Hartford, CT.
Students in the program have been introduced to working dogs who do disaster work with FEMA; bomb and drug detection with law enforcement; apprehension with the military; reading assistance; tracking and finding human remains with search-and-rescue teams; and therapy work. These young people have met a disaster veterinarian, a pre-vet student, pilots who fly rescued dogs to their new lives as working dogs, and a champion show handler, breeder, and puppy trainer, to name a few.
At the Delaware school where the program was launched last year, students received top honors from National FFA in October for their work through YAP. They have formed a Junior MWD YAP program and were invited to march in the New York City Veterans Day parade with Finding One Another’s inaugural contingent, Honoring Military Working Dogs’ Service to America. The students have also been invited for a special tour in Washington, DC.
In the Connecticut school where YAP is part of the enrichment curriculum, students are learning about arson dogs; court-assistive K9s; medical alert dogs; pet artists; and architecture through a hands-on project to benefit the search-and-rescue community. The school is so thrilled with the program that they are adopting YAP as part of their permanent curriculum and expanding the class to twice weekly.
The Connecticut students have met purebred working dogs, ranging from a five-pound long-haired Chihuahua who is a medical alert dog, to Corgis who work as reading assistive dogs, to a German Shepherd who is a search-and-rescue canine, to Chesapeake Bay Retriever show and therapy dogs.
All of these accomplishments have taken place with limited funding. Sponsors are being sought to enable YAP to fulfill the current requests for the program, which would bring it to 250,000 more students and teachers.
Sponsors interested in underwriting the expansion of YAP are invited to contact Linda Blick at 845-926-3478, or go to www.tailsofhopefoundation.org.