Dr. Darbi Haynes-Lawrence, an Associate Professor of Child & Family Studies in the College of Health & Human Services, has received a grant from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund to support her Service Dog Awareness Program.
Dr. Haynes-Lawrence, who has Multiple Sclerosis, has a mobility service dog that helps her with many aspects of her daily life. Her dog, Jaeger, was trained to wear a walking harness that has a bar Dr. Haynes-Lawrence can hold on to, which allows her to maintain her balance when walking. She credits Jaeger with helping her maintain her position as Associate Professor through his help with her mobility.
Through her own experiences with Jaeger, Dr. Haynes-Lawrence developed an interactive educational service dog awareness program to address safety for a person with a disability who has a service dog and safety and education for community members, as well as to demonstrate to children how to use a problem-focused approach to solve problems. A 45-minute interactive presentation has been presented to more than 900 students within elementary schools with great results. The presentation includes three behavioral objectives: never touch or pet a service dog, never talk to a service dog and always ask the handler polite questions.
“I’ve heard children tell their parents not to pet Jaeger because he is working,” shared Dr. Haynes-Lawrence. “On another occasion, a young child stood away from their family and waved and said, ‘I know you! I know not to talk to your dog!’”
Through the duPont Fund’s Small But Great Grants program, the initiative received $4,790 for the purchase of t-shirts to be distributed to children in grades K-5 as part of an instructional program to raise awareness about the role of service dogs and how to interact with a service dog. The Small But Great Grants enable eligible organizations to exploit an opportunity or pilot an idea that addresses a community problem or to meet a specific mission-related need.
“These t-shirts will serve as educational reminders to the children of service dog awareness and the three simple rules for behaving around a service dog and the handler,” said Dr. Haynes-Lawrence. “Further, they will serve as conversational tools and community education when students wear the shirts outside of school, providing greater educational outreach to people in our communities.”
The Jessie Ball duPont Fund’s philanthropy is guided by the Last Will & Testament of Jessie Ball duPont. The Fund may support organizations that received a gift from Mrs. duPont between Jan. 1, 1960 and Dec. 31, 1964. This is the fourth grant WKU has received from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund over the last 10 years.
For information, contact Dr. Darbi Haynes-Lawrence at (270) 745-2525.