With 25 years of changes, comes 25 more years of hope.

By | ADA 25 Celebration, Fundraising, Multipurpose Assistance, Service Dog Education, Service Dog Stories

25 Ways the Americans with Disabilities Act has Changed Lives

25 Karen & Piper25. With 25 years of changes, comes 25 more years of hope.

Seventeen years ago, Karen and her then service dog Ben, put their dreams of assisting children with disabilities into action. They founded 4 Paws for Ability and began placing service dogs with kiddos.

To do this they had to do a lot of legal research, including developing an intense understanding of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Nothing in the law stated that three person teams were prohibited…this allowed Karen and Ben to assist clients who were often told, “you’re too disabled to help”. The hope 4 Paws clients feel from this uninhibited “YES” answer, is often more than they can describe. On the other end of the spectrum, 4 Paws has been able to assist children who are told, “you aren’t disabled enough”. No disability is weighed as more or less needing of help. They are all equal under the ADA and equal to 4 Paws.

Karen and her now service dog, Piper have grown the program immensely. They have expanded the offerings for children, increased placements to 100+ per year, and added a program for veterans of recent conflicts. With accommodations provided by the ADA, there is no limit to the hope 4 Paws continues to offer.

Celebrate ADA! Donate today, http://bit.ly/4PawsForADA #ADA25 #4PawsForADA

I have found a support system.

By | ADA 25 Celebration, Fundraising, Multipurpose Assistance, Seizure Alert, Service Dog Education, Service Dog Stories

25 Ways the Americans with Disabilities Act has Changed Lives

24 Bain &24. I have found a support system.

The Americans with Disabilities Act is a very large collection of laws to benefit what is often considered a single community, ‘Americans with disabilities’. Yet, this community is large and varied in their medical conditions and needs. Sometimes, the law of averages doesn’t work – what is needed to assist one person doesn’t help the next. And sometimes, it works in a very unique and interesting way. 4 Paws has found that while their community of clients is varied and diverse, they find a support system like none other they have ever encountered.

Bain & Sunder were matched in December 2014. For 12 days of training, they ‘fit in’. They were loved and accepted. They were ‘normal’ (what does normal mean, anyways…). Kiddos with disabilities and their families often feel left out or out of place in their everyday lives – but not at 4 Paws. At 4 Paws, Bain and Sunder were surrounded by people that ‘get it’. There they met Hunter and his new partner Angel, and the fabulous foursome became fast friends. Claira Beth received her service dog, Soliel, earlier, but they live near Bain and Sunder. While the support system has always extended outside the walls of 4 Paws, this picture of the 6 of them together (and one awesome big sister) says everything about finding friendship that words never could.

“Since the moment Bain first met Sunder, he has become more vocal and his attention span and focus ability has greatly increased. 4 Paws service dogs are magical in the services that they provide but also in ways that you would never expect. We love our 4 Paws extended family and the support that they offer! I have never been involved with any other groups that are as supportive and loving and accepting as 4 Paws for Ability and the 4 Paws family! Thank you will never be enough, but I will say it anyway! Thank you!”

Celebrate ADA! Donate today, http://bit.ly/4PawsForADA #ADA25 #4PawsForADA

I have a new member of my medical team.

By | ADA 25 Celebration, Fundraising, Seizure Alert, Service Dog Education, Service Dog Stories

25 Ways the Americans with Disabilities Act has Changed Lives

23 Oreo & Tess23. I have a new member of my medical team.

Service dogs are task-trained to mitigate the impacts of disability. This looks different for each service dog team. A mobility dog might pick up dropped items, an autism assistance dog might disrupt behaviors, and a seizure alert dog might indicate an oncoming seizure and get help when it is happening. Each of these dogs is medically prescribed and part of a package of resources used to help their partner safely navigate the world.

Although Oreo was trained primarily as a seizure alert dog, her family has found that alerts to so much more. She lets her mom know when Tess is going to have a seizure, an ear infection, an upper-respiratory infection and, based on Oreo’s behavior around Tess, her family has learned to trust her to indicate how serious an illness is because Oreo knows, even before they do, that Tess is in trouble. Thanks to the ADA, Oreo is allowed to accompany Tess to all of her medical appointments and hospital stays which means, not only does her family and her doctors get to have another team member to ‘consult’ with, it means Tess gets her best buddy with her during some of the scariest times in her life.

“When we got Oreo we had no idea that she would become such a vital member of Tess’s medical team. And I mean that in a very literal sense. Oreo is so attuned to Tess that her doctors, from Maine to Boston will ask me when I call with concerns, ‘…and what is Oreo telling you?’. They also take their cues from Oreo during office visits or hospital visits. If Oreo gets up and places herself physically between them and Tess, unless it is vital that they keep helping Tess, they will back off for a bit because Oreo is letting me know that ‘Tess has had enough for the moment’.”

Celebrate ADA! Donate today, http://bit.ly/4PawsForADA #ADA25 #4PawsForADA

I am accepted for who I am.

By | ADA 25 Celebration, Autism Assistance, Fundraising, Service Dog Education, Service Dog Stories

25 Ways the Americans with Disabilities Act has Changed Lives

22 Dalton & Jasper22. I am accepted for who I am.

For 25 years, the Americans with Disabilities Act has served as more than just a law. The requirements set forth within led to inclusion, which is often a step closer to acceptance. Acceptance allows a person to exist just as they are, with no worry for the way people see their medical conditions.

Dalton is a lucky kiddo, and while there are a lot of reasons, the best of which is that he has a loving community that accepts him. At school, church, and camp he is free to just be. This is good for Dalton, and good for his family. Harsh looks and stares seem unavoidable with the unprepared public, but are nowhere to be seen in his community. There is love, and hugs, and great care. This has only increased since Jasper has been by his side. Jasper is the elite partner and friend. He doesn’t know how to judge and his love is unconditional. Together they are strong and fearless, and thankfully, welcomed by their loved ones.

“So many things have changed since Jasper came into our lives. The biggest change is that Dalton is finally willing to go out in public again. He used to shake in fear, but he is now asking us to take him out. Dalton asks for Jasper and knows that they are best friends”.

Celebrate ADA! Donate today, http://bit.ly/4PawsForADA #ADA25 #4PawsForADA

My quality of life has improved.

By | ADA 25 Celebration, Autism Assistance, Fundraising, Service Dog Education, Service Dog Stories

25 Ways the Americans with Disabilities Act has Changed Lives

21 Andrew & Nora21. My quality of life has improved.

The ADA guarantees many rights and services for people with disabilities that no law did in the past. Housing and air travel were protected under other previous laws, but the ADA was the first comprehensive law for disability rights, covering employment, telecommunication, and public accommodation – which includes public access coverage for task trained service dogs. These promised rights, aren’t just rights at all. They have increased the quality of life for individuals and families for 25 years.

Meet Andrew & Nora. Without Nora, Andrew would have a particularly hard time navigating the world. As his mom says, “Autism is a marathon, not a sprint”, and together they are covering miles. The ADA helps them get those resources needed to safely access public accommodations and their school, together. Nora loves Andrew unconditionally, something that is sometimes hard for the unaware and unprepared public to do. Nora helps Andrew connect with his teachers and peers in their school environment, and Andrew has made strides in his schoolwork too. Quality of life is hard to measure, but it’s certainly obvious when things are better.

“My husband is a coach at a very large high school in Texas (think Friday night lights!) and I cannot manage games alone with the threat that Andrew will bolt…so we tether. When Andrew has a meltdown, it isn’t a temper tantrum. He’s on sensory overload. His anxiety is overwhelming. The lights are just so bright. Some of them even make noise only he can detect. The music is too loud. You put on too much of your terrible perfume…” and Nora helps with that, she make his life better.

Celebrate ADA! Donate today, http://bit.ly/4PawsForADA #ADA25 #4PawsForADA

Universal designs enhance the experience for everyone, but are necessary for my participation.

By | ADA 25 Celebration, Fundraising, Seizure Alert, Service Dog Education, Service Dog Stories

25 Ways the Americans with Disabilities Act has Changed Lives

20 Katie & Kyto20. Universal designs enhance the experience for everyone, but are necessary for my participation.

Universal design is the idea of designing environments, such that all people have the best possible experience. This means accommodations required for people with disabilities to participate also enhance the experience for others. Like accessible bathrooms that also benefit a mom and her toddler, or large print guides that also assist the elderly. The ADA doesn’t require universal design, but has increased awareness and accessible concepts throughout our communities.

This is Katie and her service dog Kyto at Morgan’s Wonderland. It is the world’s first theme park designed with special-needs individuals in mind and built for everyone. Katie and her family all enjoyed the park, together. Inside you can find everything from playgrounds, sensory areas, a music garden, a walk and roll path, and Katie & Kyto’s favorite – the water works. Here Katie was in charge; she could play and laugh and even teach Kyto how to enjoy the water elements. It was designed such that she could participate fully, as it existed, without need for further accommodation. In this place Katie, Kyto, and every other visitor participates as they are.

“Since having Kyto enter our lives Katie has formed her first real attachment to an animal. She’s only tolerated them before. Now she seeks them out, to pet, play and cuddle. She was never able to do this before. This has helped open her to attachments to people. Before Kyto, Katie would get frustrated and hit, pinch or harm the people around her in some way. Now she seeks affection and companionship. She will randomly crawl in one of our laps just to hug us. I really believe Kyto played a huge roll in helping open this side of Katie. He’s enriched and expanded her life in more ways than I could ever say”.

Celebrate ADA! Donate today, http://bit.ly/4PawsForADA #ADA25 #4PawsForADA

I am my own legal advocate.

By | ADA 25 Celebration, Autism Assistance, Fundraising, Multipurpose Assistance, Service Dog Education, Service Dog Stories

25 Ways the Americans with Disabilities Act has Changed Lives

19 Addie & Data19.  I am my own legal advocate.

When Congress prepared and finalized the ADA, they had no intent to diminish or invalidate any rights granted by other federal, state, or local laws and specifically wrote this into the regulation.  This means state laws can offer greater access than the federal law or work to make federal law explicitly clear within the setting of state legal proceedings.

This encourages all people to become their own legal advocates, working towards the best possible set of local, state, and federal laws for public access.  In New Jersey, Addie & Data, along with their super supportive mom and sister, worked swift and quick to make sure the pair were welcomed and loved in their school.  While doing this they found that NJ has specific laws allowing service dogs in school buildings and on school grounds, but nothing that clearly stated service dogs must also be permitted on school buses.  Working together with their Assemblyman, the Gill family watched Governor Chris Christie sign “Addie’s Law” this spring, making clear the requirement for accepting service dogs on school buses and reiterating other aspects of the ADA.

“We are so proud of Addie’s Law.  We hope to continue being legal advocates, especially where handlers for service dogs in schools are concerned.  Because Addie’s Law was a success, children in NJ who were having issues with school transportation won’t anymore”.

Celebrate ADA!  Donate today, http://bit.ly/4PawsForADA #ADA25 #4PawsForADA

I can join my friends to PLAY!

By | ADA 25 Celebration, Fundraising, Multipurpose Assistance, Service Dog Education, Service Dog Stories

25 Ways the Americans with Disabilities Act has Changed Lives

18 Aiden & Kelcy18.  I can join my friends to PLAY!

The ADA provides individuals with disabilities access to programming and removal of physical barriers to facilities.  This means all kiddos get to participate with their peers, both in integrated and specialized activities! 

Aidan and Kelcy just look like a playful pair.  Aidan is an active kiddo, and participates in both dance and tennis.  They have also enjoyed the summer sun at a local accessible playground.  For quiet time, Aidan and Kelcy frequent their local library.  All things ones might expect of a kid, and because of the ADA, Aidan gets to experience them with Kelcy, and without barriers.

“Our lives have been forever changed by 4 Paws for Ability, With Kelcy by Aidan’s side, we know that he won’t wander away from her, but if he does we have the peace of mind that she will find him quickly.  This allows us to let Aidan play without the stress of losing him in a crowd.  Kelcy keeps him safe and he can just be a kid, enjoying the activities he loves.”

Celebrate ADA!  Donate today, http://bit.ly/4PawsForADA #ADA25 #4PawsForADA

I live in a world that I can trust.

By | ADA 25 Celebration, Fundraising, Multipurpose Assistance, Service Dog Education, Service Dog Stories

25 Ways the Americans with Disabilities Act has Changed Lives

17 Anna & Cadi17. I live in a world that I can trust.

This is Anna and her service dog Cadi.  Cadi helped Anna in a lot of ways; with walking, with picking up dropped objects, and importantly with trusting the world around her.  When Anna was unsure of stairs, Cadi patiently waited, while Anna determined how high each step was.  The ADA allowed Cadi to accompany Anna everywhere, even to school and on hospital visits, increasing her comfort and trust.  Anna could accomplish anything with Cadi by her side!  Her trust in Cadi helped her on her best days, like family vacation to an accessible Candyland themed playground; and on her not so great days, where her medical conditions were difficult to overcome.  Together, Anna and Cadi were the best pair.

Anna passed away in 2012, with her family by her side.  With Cadi, Anna trusted.  Thanks to her service dog and the protection of the ADA law, she could trust everywhere she went.  Her family and friends through Angels for Anna continue to trust the world – to trust that people are good, and have the capacity to do something nice, for someone else, every day.  Today, for Anna and Cadi, do something nice.

Celebrate ADA!  Donate today, http://bit.ly/4PawsForADA #ADA25 #4PawsForADA

Public transportation is accessible to me.

By | ADA 25 Celebration, Fundraising, Seizure Alert, Service Dog Education, Service Dog Stories

25 Ways the Americans with Disabilities Act has Changed Lives

16 Danielle and Bobo16. Public transportation is accessible to me.

The ADA requires that public transportation is accessible.  This includes wheelchair lifts on buses, elevators to subway station stops, and accessible seating within transportation sources.  Even school buses must be made accessible!

This is Dani and her service dog Bobo.  For 37 years the Ohio Department of Education has provided school bus drivers with advanced training, each summer.  In 2013 Dani and Bobo became the first service dog team to participate in this training, assisting the school bus drivers with hands-on drills of fire evacuations.  Since Dani and Bobo use the bus to get to school, this helps keep them safe, but also helps keep children with disabilities and their service dogs across the state of Ohio safe.  They have participated in training more than 1200 Ohio school bus drivers over 3 summers.  Dani also received the first ever “Danielle Kneisly Award” given out by the Ohio Department of Education, which will be given out to people who advance the care of students during transport to and from school.

“Danielle doesn’t have a dis-ability.  She has a different ability.  We will forever be grateful for the door Bob Harmon and the Transportation Department opened for Dani.  In her life there are a lot of things she won’t get to participate in…being able to participate in the advanced driver program has opened a door for her to change lives that even a typical young person may never have the opportunity to do.”

Celebrate ADA!  Donate today, http://bit.ly/4PawsForADA #ADA25 #4PawsForADA

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