Local teenager Christina, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair or walking sticks to get around, is enjoying a confidence boost and new found independence thanks to Island charity Ability Dogs 4 Young People.
Christina’s condition can be very limiting for her, and it previously affected her confidence. In 2014 she received her Ability Dog called Georgie and he changed her life. Georgie helps Christina to shower and dress in the morning, and helps her get around when out and about. Georgie is an assistance dog trained by Sandown-based Ability Dogs 4 Young People.
Cerebral palsy is a physical disability. Christina says:
“When you’re on sticks or in a chair, people do stop and look at you with a sort of ‘What are you doing? What’s wrong with you?’ look. A lot of people talk to you like you’re really little, or they ask my friends ‘Can Christina do this?’ when I’m right next to them, rather than asking me.”
Being a teenager is a difficult stage in life at the best of times, particularly for someone who has to rely on their mum to help them with simple practical tasks every day. Georgie now helps Christina wash and dress and he wears a special harness that she holds to help her get around when out and about. Christina now feels she can do much more with Georgie now that she doesn’t have to rely on the help of other people.
Being a generally quiet person has changed for Christina since having Georgie. He works as a perfect ice breaker and gives her the confidence to talk to people. Recently the pair have been over to Portsmouth alone, something Christina and her family never thought would happen. The independence and confidence Georgie has given her allows her to feel more grown up and he has proved that dogs really are man’s (or woman’s!) best friend.
Ability Dogs 4 Young People is a unique Isle of Wight charity, training assistance dogs to help transform the lives of young disabled people living on the Island. It is unique as it helps disabled young people with any disability, mental or physical. Ability Dogs 4 Young People are looking for volunteers to help support fundraising activities and to consider becoming Puppy Parents. If you’re interested then contact the charity on 01983 216246 or email [email protected]