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March/April 2014
Adults with special needs are assertively
leading dogs around the room, commanding them
to sit and generously rewarding them with both
treats and smiles.
Though it has only been about a year and a
half since Co-directors Mindy Stevenson and
Mary Green started the Champs Foundation (in
November of 2012), it has already made quite an
impact on so many lives.
The program for teens and adults with
intellectual disabilities pairs each with a volunteer
coach and trained dog, so the participants can
learn how to train dogs themselves. Not only do
the participants learn new skills associated with
dog training, but the classes help with life skills
and boost confidence, potentially helping its
participants find jobs.
Stevenson’s two sons with special needs, Billy
and Danny, were her inspiration for the first-of-
its-kind program. After running a therapeutic
horseback riding center for 18 years, Stevenson
started working with dogs.
At one point, Stevenson had as many as 75
students riding horses weekly, but her youngest
son Danny’s life-threatening seizures were not
compatible with the program. Stevenson
found that working with dogs allowed her
to have constant supervision of her son
since he could work alongside her.
Nick and Annie
roomful of jovial faces and a strong sense
of camaraderie among both people and dogs
fill the classroom at K9 Manners & More on a
Saturday afternoon.
continued on page 10
Zack and Mavis