Kirsten Coleman

Daily Point of Light # 3834 Oct 14, 2008

Kirsten began her project with therapy dogs three years ago. Her father suffered a severe stroke which left him paralyzed on his right side. With the use of her dog, Roxy, Kirsten assisted her father with his rehabilitation. As she saw the benefits of not only the rehabilitation using her dog but also the emotional healing through the love and compassion the animal had for her father, she was inspired to do more.

Kirsten discovered a group called “Sumter Paws”. Kirsten and Roxy attended training classes and became certified members of National Therapy Dogs, Incorporated.

It is unusual for someone so young to make such a commitment, but she embraced this challenge with enthusiasm. They began making weekly visits to nursing homes, hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, and schools. In October 2005, as the only young member involved in pet therapy in her community, she began educating others on the benefits of therapy dogs. There are 5 more young people involved in the organization today, and the number is growing.

Kirsten, now 16, has developed her own organization entitled “Puppy Love”. Her objective is to increase awareness of therapy dogs, educate the public on rehabilitation benefits, and inspire young people to become involved in their communities. Kirsten organized a Relay For Life team and became the first Therapy Dog Team to be allowed to participate at the event. She has participated in other Relay for Life events, and Youth Service America day by taking Roxy with her to read to elementary students.

On May 10, 2008, Kirsten encouraged 95 municipalities throughout the state of Florida to pass Proclamations adopting the first “Therapy Dogs Awareness Day”. Kirsten continues to educate the public with visits to the Ronald McDonald House, and upcoming events, such as; coordinating a donation drive for the Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals, a Dog Wash to raise funds for a local reading program, and speaking engagements at the local community college.

Kirsten financially supports her organization by selling beaded bracelets that she makes and donations from the community. She gives of herself freely, truly believes in her causes and the message it delivers. Her projects meet the needs of the community by providing an emotional and physical rehabilitation outlet; it provides an opportunity for others to get involved. The impact on the community has been dynamic, and the social issue of isolation felt by many in nursing facilities is alleviated.

Kirsten financially supports her organization by selling beaded bracelets that she makes and donations from the community. She gives of herself freely, truly believes in her causes and the message it delivers. Her projects meets the needs of the community by providing an emotional and physical rehabilitation outlet, it provides an opportunity for others to get involved. The impact on the community has been dynamic, and the social issue of isolation felt by many I nursing facilities is alleviated.

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