SURF DOG RICOCHET CHANGES THE LIVES OF COMBAT VETERANS WITH PTSD & KIDS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
June 29, 2017 • Health & Wellness
This one-of-a-kind mentorship program matches veterans & kids for a day of paws-on healing through Ricochet’s canine-assisted surfing, paddling, playing and therapy
Last Sunday, Ricochet traded her long board for a paddle board as she took veterans with PTSD and kids with special needs from the battleground to the playground through her Waves of Empowerment program.
This one-of-a-kind mentorship program matches combat veterans with PTSD and kids with special needs for a day of empowerment and paws-on healing. It also incorporates adults with disabilities who want to inspire and encourage kids through the challenges they've faced.
Each veteran or adult becomes a mentor, and is matched one-on-one with a child with special needs. The program focuses on canine-assisted surfing, paddling, playing and therapy. And, thanks to Body Glove who donated two inflatable stand-up paddle boards to the program, and to Redfin who sponsored Sunday’s event, Ricochet is able help even more veterans and kids. Activities are facilitated by Ricochet who is a registered, certified and top AKC titled therapy dog.
Every 65 minutes a veteran with PTSD takes their life by suicide. That’s 22 lives a day! When service members separate from the military they often feel lost with no sense of purpose. The connectedness they felt with their military brothers and sisters now gives way to feelings of disconnect. Many battle with anxiety, depression, hypervigilance and a host of other symptoms. It’s common for returning soldiers with PTSD to have antisocial behaviors that lead to isolation.
On the other paw, kids with disabilities are one of the most marginalized and excluded groups in society. On the other paw, kids with disabilities are one of the most marginalized and excluded groups in society. Current estimates suggest that there are at least 93 million children with disabilities in the world. Many kids with special needs are judged and defined by their disability, rather than their potential. Some families face social withdrawal and isolation because of stigma, prejudice and lack of understanding. But, Ricochet enlisted the help of Surf Education Academy to provide expert water safety and adaptability, so every child regardless of their ability could partake in the activities. Plus, this summer, RehabMart partnered with Ricochet in bringing the ocean to veterans and children with special needs through their donation of the Hippocampe Beach and All-Terrain Wheelchair!
One of the most common symptoms of PTSD, Autism and other disabilities is social anxiety. But, through Ricochet’s innovative model, social skills are improved in a non-judgmental environment where everyone feels accepted. Differences are embraced, which allows each individual to demonstrate their potential for making a positive impact in their lives, as well as the lives of others. Veterans are able to use their skill set and leadership abilities which give them a renewed sense of purpose. Being of service to kids with special need allows them to step outside their own issues as they re-discover themselves and inspire future generations. This is a great inclusive program for children as well, because they gain independence, confidence and self-worth while being coached by war heroes.
Play is used as a vehicle to bring diverse populations together which fosters camaraderie, team work and relationships. Play is facilitated by Ricochet as well as therapy, service and emotional support dogs which deepens the human-animal bond. For kids who tend to get sensory overload, or prefer to be quiet, a craft and game table is provided so every child feels included. Ricochet is committed to reducing the suicide rate, social anxiety, isolation and exclusion as she unites and enriches the lives of veterans and civilians of all abilities and backgrounds. The mentors and kids make a connection with, and through Ricochet like this young man who is a double amputee. They end up empowering each other! The transformation that occurs when these diverse individuals are brought together with Ricochet is truly magical.
Please join us as we celebrate all warriors, regardless of their battle.