At Guide Dogs for the Blind, one of our strategic goals is to introduce more youth the guide dog mobility and the guide dog lifestyle. That’s because we believe that a dog can make a remarkable difference in any young person’s life through increased mobility, confidence, strong partnership, and a sense of freedom and of responsibility through the human-animal bond.
GDB has several free programs that provide youth who are blind or visually impaired an opportunity to explore the guide dog lifestyle from childhood into adulthood. Now, GDB is offering Careers & Canine Connections: A free weeklong program for individuals ages 18-24 that takes a deep dive into career exploration and how a guide dog can fit into future employment opportunities for their handlers. The free weeklong program takes place August 7-12, 2023, at the Hull Foundation & Learning Center in Sandy, Oregon.
GDB has partnered with the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) to offer the joint programming and career development programs. Jane Flower, GDB Youth Outreach Specialist, says Careers & Canine Connections was designed to help young adults overcome the unemployment and underemployment issue the blindness community has historically faced. “Participants will learn about new career options, practice interviewing techniques, explore the value of networking, and enjoy unique hands-on experience with guide dogs,” says Jane. Although it is not a guide dog training program, Jane says Careers & Canine Connections is tailored for young job seekers interested in exploring guide dog mobility. The program is still accepting applications.
GDB President and CEO Christine Benninger says GDB’s partnership with APH to offer the joint programming is groundbreaking because it marks the first time in the U.S. a leading educational organization in the blindness community has joined forces with a guide dog school to offer career programming for young adults considering the guide dog lifestyle. "We’re overjoyed to partner with APH Connect Center to support career readiness of our young participants in a way that integrates the use of a guide dog into their employment plans and decisions," explains Chris. "APH Connect Center has such an amazing library and breadth of experience, so we hope to grow this partnership in meaningful ways to help participants live the lives they want to live by fulfilling their career dreams in practically any role in society."