In January of this year, KYCC’s Youth Services Unit partnered with the Hobkirk Family and Little Angels Service Dogs to provide an educational workshop for our K-12th grade youth on service dogs. Students and instructors met at KYCC’s Menlo and Wilton locations to participate in the education of handling service dogs, and in turn, those with disabilities.
Instructors led their classes through a lesson about service dogs and the types of services they can provide with the help of Waylon, a service dog in training, his handlers, Carl and Christina Hobkirk, and their daughter, Erin Hobkirk.
The Hobkirks do a great job of fostering Waylon during training as they wait for their permanent service dog companion for their daughter Erin. Erin Hobkirk, who has epilepsy, autism, and mobility impairments, relies on service dogs such as Waylon to provide catered assistance for her disabilities.
With the help of Waylon and Erin, students were able to learn about different disabilities and how service dogs can assist with their symptom management. Through live demonstrations and Q&A sessions, students were educated on how to better approach service dogs and people with a range of disabilities.
“The students were amazing and followed all the rules about not petting the service dog while he had the vest on. One student asked why they couldn’t touch the dog, and we explained that it is important to respect the dog’s work by not distracting it from their job.” said Christina Hobkirk, a Service Dog Handler and retired School Nurse. She states, “We have had kids come up to Waylon in public and try to pet him, and it meant a lot to us that we were able to bring awareness to service dogs and the work they do.”
KYCC’s Youth Services seeks to increase connection and awareness to our communities who require assistance through workshops like this.
Many people know about Seeing Eye Dogs for blind individuals, but Little Angels Service Dogs specializes in providing service dogs specially trained for folks with epilepsy, autism, diabetes, PTSD, and other disabilities.
Thank you to everyone that participated in the success of this event. Special thanks to the Little Angels Service Dogs, Bruins for Accessible Education, Bridge Program Volunteers, The Hobkirk family, and the students who came with a curious heart.