A charity gala has raised $215,430 to fund the Buddy Dogs for Kids program, which will create a lasting difference in the lives of WA children and adults with disability and other special needs. Think Fragile X Foundation held a sold-out gala for more than 500 guests on Saturday 27 February at Astral Ballroom, Crown Perth.
Maria and Luke Goss, Founders and Directors of Think Fragile X Foundation, are the people behind the program. The pair use a Companion Dog-in-training to help their two sons cope with symptoms of an intellectual disability.
“At 15 months, Ethan wasn’t meeting his developmental milestones. He wouldn’t make eye contact, and he wasn’t crawling or walking,” Maria said.
“At the beginning of December 2012, Ethan was diagnosed with Fragile X Syndrome – and then my second son, Logan, was diagnosed not long after.”
Fragile X Syndrome (FXS) is a condition causing intellectual disability, behavioural and learning challenges. Coleman, a black Labrador, was introduced to the family last year to help them manage stress.
“Companion Dogs are wonderful for children with disability. They are specially trained to bring stability, peace and calm to the child during highly emotional episodes.”
“This program is going to change so many children’s lives – and so many families in Western Australia.”
Under the new program, dogs like Coleman help in intervention training to facilitate independence, providing skills to deal with challenging situations.
Professor Andrew Whitehouse of Telethon Kids’ Institute will conduct the research behind the Buddy Dogs program. Professor Whitehouse is evaluating the benefits of Buddy Dogs in the development of children with disability.
To find out how you can apply for a Companion, Assistance or Therapy Dog, contact Gateway Services at 1800 VISION, or 1800 847 466.