Dogs Healing Incarcerated Youth and Youth Healing Neglected Dogs

Organization: The Legacy Center Inc
Website:
www.extremegivers.com
Author: Dr. Lori Todd

Legacy Center Stands for Dogs Healing Youth and Youth Healing Neglected Dogs

Dogs can heal incarcerated youth and incarcerated youth can heal neglected dogs. The youth of America are ending up in correctional institutions at an alarming rate. Reducing the recidivism rate is vital for the welfare of our children. Legacy Center in North Carolina has teamed up with the Swannanoa Valley Youth Development Center to heal incarcerated youth through a Pet Therapy Program.

The Legacy CenterThe vision of the project is to open up possibilities for incarcerated youth through connection with another living creature. The Swannanoa Valley Youth Development Center houses 48 male juveniles who have been committed to the Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention for chronic and/or serious acts of delinquency. Youth are committed for an indefinite period of time, the average stay averages one year. The facility offers a behavior program where youth progress through four stages. As they master behavioral skills, they earn privileges and greater autonomy.

A therapeutic pet program will be created that will integrate into the existing system and provide powerful experiences for children to master complex social skills. Treatment teams will recommend youth to the program, and youth will complete an application process. Sixteen youth will be involved at a time, with two individuals assigned to work with each dog.

The vision is that through their involvement with the dogs, youth will develop a loving trusting relationship that can translate to the rest of their lives. Youth learn through structured experiences and build skills essential for life. Incarcerated young men will experience compassion, responsibility, connection and authenticity while creating teamwork, communication, and leadership. In spite of the circumstance of incarceration, the symbiotic relationship between young man and dog empowers the young men and creates childlike freedom and vitality.

Dogs that need social skills in order to be adopted will be transformed through their relationship with the boys. Boys who need social skills in order to be successful upon return to their communities will be transformed because of their relationship with the dogs. The larger community’s investment in the youth who are incarcerated will become a lasting legacy. The tangible results will stand as evidence that the youth matter and are worthy of this investment in their future.

To start this project, Legacy Center’s NC116 Leadership team transformed, in one weekend, an empty field and created an exciting dog training and housing space. The project included:

  1. Fencing one acre for exercise and practicing commands off the leash.
  2. Creating and installing a canine agility training course that covers approximately 100′ x 100′ (included a tunnel, tunnel chute, weave pole set, bar jump, see-saw, pause table, long jump, tire jump and A frame.)
  3. A fenced-in potty pen.
  4. Acquiring eight dog crates.
  5. Building a 12’ x 16’ wood building to house eight dogs.

On this weekend, it was twenty degrees outside and several of the incarcerated boys worked all weekend to make the project happen. Now the boys are ready to learn and grow to be better citizens as they work with dogs that need to learn and grow to be more adoptable!


  • http://www.legacycenterfoundation.org Sarah T.

    This was an amazing project experience. To see people from the community come together no matter what the weather was truly inspiring. Watching the boys from the juvenile detention center work together was also inspiring. They didn’t care how cold it was outside, all they cared about was creating an amazing space for there soon to be new best friends!

    Boys and Dogs Building New Lives
    Swannanoa, North Carolina February 13-15, 2010: Young men at the Swannanoa Valley Youth Development Center (SVYDC) in Swannanoa, North Carolina will be receiving everything they need to start a dog training and adoption program. Members of the NC 116 Leadership Team from the Legacy Center in Morrisville, NC are partnering with the NC Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (DJJDP), Project Challenge, a non-profit community service and restitution agency, and dozens of volunteers to create a canine agility course, an acre of fencing, and a building to house the dogs at the facility in Swannanoa. This project will allow youth to give back to the community by socializing rescued dogs to make them more adoptable. The therapeutic pet program will provide powerful experiences for incarcerated youth to master complex social skills. Through their involvement with the dogs, youth will develop loving, trusting relationships, learn through structured experiences and build skills essential for life. Youth will learn responsibility, communication, teamwork and leadership.

    Legacy Center offers bold leadership workshops and coaching for people committed to creating extraordinary results, a meaningful experience of life, and impacting the world. Every Leadership team creates an extraordinary project that leaves a legacy. The team members cannot use any of their own money and the project can only take one weekend to complete.
    The project has been an amazing project experience. To see people from the community come together no matter what the weather was truly inspiring. Watching the boys from the juvenile detention center work together was also inspiring. They didn’t care how cold it was outside, all they cared about was creating an amazing space for there soon to be new best friends!
    The SVYDC houses 48 teenage males who have been committed to the Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention for chronic and/or serious acts of delinquency. Youth are committed for an indefinite period of time, the average stay is one year. This project will positively impact the community by increasing the successful rehabilitation of juveniles, rescuing dogs, and creating a safer community. Research shows that incarcerated youth who participate in therapeutic pet programs are less likely to reoffend.

  • http://www.legacycenterfoundation.org Sarah T.

    This was an amazing project experience. To see people from the community come together no matter what the weather was truly inspiring. Watching the boys from the juvenile detention center work together was also inspiring. They didn’t care how cold it was outside, all they cared about was creating an amazing space for there soon to be new best friends!

    Boys and Dogs Building New Lives
    Swannanoa, North Carolina February 13-15, 2010: Young men at the Swannanoa Valley Youth Development Center (SVYDC) in Swannanoa, North Carolina will be receiving everything they need to start a dog training and adoption program. Members of the NC 116 Leadership Team from the Legacy Center in Morrisville, NC are partnering with the NC Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (DJJDP), Project Challenge, a non-profit community service and restitution agency, and dozens of volunteers to create a canine agility course, an acre of fencing, and a building to house the dogs at the facility in Swannanoa. This project will allow youth to give back to the community by socializing rescued dogs to make them more adoptable. The therapeutic pet program will provide powerful experiences for incarcerated youth to master complex social skills. Through their involvement with the dogs, youth will develop loving, trusting relationships, learn through structured experiences and build skills essential for life. Youth will learn responsibility, communication, teamwork and leadership.

    Legacy Center offers bold leadership workshops and coaching for people committed to creating extraordinary results, a meaningful experience of life, and impacting the world. Every Leadership team creates an extraordinary project that leaves a legacy. The team members cannot use any of their own money and the project can only take one weekend to complete.
    The project has been an amazing project experience. To see people from the community come together no matter what the weather was truly inspiring. Watching the boys from the juvenile detention center work together was also inspiring. They didn’t care how cold it was outside, all they cared about was creating an amazing space for there soon to be new best friends!
    The SVYDC houses 48 teenage males who have been committed to the Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention for chronic and/or serious acts of delinquency. Youth are committed for an indefinite period of time, the average stay is one year. This project will positively impact the community by increasing the successful rehabilitation of juveniles, rescuing dogs, and creating a safer community. Research shows that incarcerated youth who participate in therapeutic pet programs are less likely to reoffend.

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  • Delia

    I felt shivers go down my body and tears welled up in my eyes at reading this programm! Dogs have an enormous capacity to heal us humans. Programms such as this will bring about lasting change with deep shifts in consciousness, catapulting and multiplying in ways we cannot imagine… the benefit of this will spread through centuries! I am so gratefull that this is happening. Is there a follow up programm from where these joung men can continue to develop these skills opening up other possibilities withing range bringing it to higher levels of autonomy and creativity?

  • Delia

    I felt shivers go down my body and tears welled up in my eyes at reading this programm! Dogs have an enormous capacity to heal us humans. Programms such as this will bring about lasting change with deep shifts in consciousness, catapulting and multiplying in ways we cannot imagine… the benefit of this will spread through centuries! I am so gratefull that this is happening. Is there a follow up programm from where these joung men can continue to develop these skills opening up other possibilities withing range bringing it to higher levels of autonomy and creativity?

  • http://www.extremegivers.com John Freeman

    I participated at this project and could not believe how much got done in such a short time. These Legacy Center Leaders were quite impressive. And it was quite a statement for such a small group of people. They worked together in the cold as if they were having a blast.

  • http://www.extremegivers.com John Freeman

    I participated at this project and could not believe how much got done in such a short time. These Legacy Center Leaders were quite impressive. And it was quite a statement for such a small group of people. They worked together in the cold as if they were having a blast.

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