Take A Chance On Me - continued:

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Both child and dog are taught directives, building a relationship that helps the child be “heard” and understood through speech, touch or facilitated communication. BJ worked for Broward County Animal Control as the Shelter Operations Manager. She was also the Director of Education at the Jacksonville Humane Society. And, she has first-hand knowledge of the challenges parents with children of autism face, having raised two daughters with mental health disorders. Project Chance is


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From a teacher: I am a special education teacher with a Master’s in Special Education with an emphasis in autism. I work at North Florida School of Special Education. Last year, my class contained nine boys on the autism spectrum. Almost half had service dogs. I can tell you their names as readily as my students’ even though they didn’t come to school with them. Three of the four dogs came from Project C.H.A.N.C.E. I would like to thank you for the difference you have made in their lives. You have made something once so out of reach, obtainable. You have edu- cated dogs, families and by extension, the community. The impact is profound, and I am truly grateful. To see my students comfortable, happy, interacting, and even safer cannot be put into words how that makes me feel. A simple thank you isn’t enough, but for now, please accept this as I join the journey to spread the word about Project C.H.A.N.C.E.

just as much a support program as anything else. “We call ourselves the Project Chance family and everyone cries knowing we all understand each other. We allow each other to help one another.” The dogs them-

selves are not a magic pill, BJ emphasizes. “The dog bridges the child’s world. My main goal is to make sure these kids are given the

opportunity to go on and do something with their lives. I want them to know what helping, giving and citizenship are. I want them to learn compassion, empathy and leadership. And, I want their parents to realize that their child has the competency to learn these things, given the opportunity to do so.” Before Bunker was officially paired with Zac, he already

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knew this was his dog. “Zac cradled Bunker in his arms and said, ‘Bunker is love. Bunker is family.’ For a child whose verbal capacity is quite limited, that was just amazing,” Sara said. “For me, Bunker has made life a lot easier, especially on outings, when I have to go with Zac by myself. Bunker keeps Zac focused and calm. Bunker always has his eye on Zac.” Sara adds that her son is one of the happiest kids she

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knows. “With or without a dog, that won’t change, I believe. Bunker only adds to his happiness. That is the only thing we hope and ask for — happiness for Zac.”


PROJECT CHANCE - Each dog costs $16,000. How each family pays depends on their ability to do so. Project Chance relies on private and corporate donations and grants to help under-

write the costs of the dogs for the families. To donate and/or to inquire about a dog, please call 904.491.0414 or email Project Chance is located on five acres at 95512 Arbor Lane, Fernandina Beach, Florida 32034.

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