Introducing Dory the Dog! Project Community Brings Dog Therapy to Pelham’s Kids with Special Needs
Special Education Teacher Toni Ann Zuzulo along with the kids and Dory the Dog (therapy canine)
By Joe Nunziata
Love was definitely in the air on Sunday, February 12th, at the Pelham Art Center as Project Community hosted a three-hour Valentine’s celebration for children with special needs. The special attraction for the kids was welcoming Dory the Dog – a specially trained, certified therapy dog. This is all part of their successful, long-running program Project CHILDD (Community Help In Learning about Developmental Disabilities), which gives participants (ages 3 to young adult) with special needs encouragement to engage in fun, social activities with their peers, and supervising nurses and teen mentors.
According to Camille Drago, RN, Project CHILDD Pelham Director, “Normally a program’s event includes art class, dance and yoga. We were excited to introduce dog therapy with Dory the Dog to the children. It was a huge success as we noticed how there was an increase in compassion and nurturing among the children, as they pet and fed Dory.” Special thanks to Toni Ann Zuzulo – a Special Education teacher – for bringing Dory, her certified, trained therapy dog. Also, the homemade cupcakes made by Deanna Zuzulo were a big hit!
As this innovative program is becoming more and more successful, new initiatives such as dog therapy are being introduced. Currently, the program is in the process of bringing on a special needs dance instructor. Stay tuned!
Like any growing program, Project CHILDD is looking for any teenager who may be interested in becoming a mentor during these events. If you’re a teen looking for an opportunity to become a mentor in our programs, contact Project Community. They would love to have you on board.
Project Community is Pelham’s only volunteer organization that is spearheaded by expert healthcare professionals, dedicated to support family life by providing “Knowledge to Navigate” to tackle relevant issues with insights and answers through six innovative programs such as Project CHILDD and a variety of events, such as the ever-popular COLOR RUN.
For more information on Project Community, and Project CHILDD’s schedule of meeting times, visit projectcommunity.us.