Youth and Young Adults as Trainers

Hope Unleashed, a collaborative program between Project HOPE Foundation and Vested Partners, uses dog training as a way to help youth and young adults with autism to build communication, social skills, appropriate response/reinforcements in relationships, and group participation. Depending upon the participants’ needs, the training will occur in individualized settings, small groups, and inclusion-based classes. The scope of the training will depend upon the client’s functioning level. Some clients may learn how to pet a dog gently or fasten a leash to a collar. Others may work on basic commands: heel, come, sit, stay, etc. Some will build up to directing a dog through an agility course. This aspect of Hope Unleashed promotes active living, social interaction, and pre-vocational opportunities for youth and young adults with autism.