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Jacobs Giving & Volunteering Program, Collectively℠, Supports the Training of a New Assistance Dog

Category: charity, disability, Diversity & Inclusion, Giving & Volunteering, Assistance Dogs

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We connected with Paul Rendle, Technical Director – Intelligent Transport Systems in the Asia Pacific region, to find out about the Jacobs Assistance Dog being supported by a grant from our Giving & Volunteering Program Collectively, and how our employees are helping to name the Jacobs puppy.

 

A male adult and a male child walking away from the camera holding the lead of a black assistance dog

Paul – you secured a grant through Collectively to support a cause close to your heart. Can you tell us about that?

This year I submitted an application for a grant through the Collectively Program to support an Assistance Dog puppy through its two-year training program with Assistance Dogs Australia (ADA). This charity has meant a lot to my family and we wanted to show them just how much we appreciate them. We also felt it was incredibly important to pay it forward. It takes two years to train an Assistance Dog and costs almost $30,000 (AU$40,000) to do so.

The Collectively application requires the grants to align with the Jacobs values and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and seeing as inclusion is at the heart of the SDGs, an Assistance Dog coheres perfectly with this and our Jacobs’ value, We live inclusion. As a company we have been assigned a puppy and once he graduates from his training he will be placed as either an Autism Assistance Dog, or to support someone with a physical disability or to help former service personnel with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Tell us more about our new relationship with Assistance Dogs Australia.

When the grant was approved, we were lucky enough to be in time for a litter of puppies that were born in late May. A puppy has now been assigned to Jacobs to sponsor and that puppy will be travelling to Brisbane from Melbourne to be placed with his Puppy Educator to commence his training. Jacobs will be kept informed of the progress of the puppy and ADA will also visit the office to present on the work they do and introduce the puppy.

As part of our sponsorship Jacobs also gets to name the puppy so we’re launching a competition internally for our team members in the region to come up with a name for the pup. There is also an opportunity in September this year for Jacobs staff in Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, and in October for Sydney to attend an ADA graduation ceremony to see the Assistance Dogs that have been placed since last year receive their graduation certificates. The Brisbane event will include our puppy as part of his ongoing training as well as my family as our Assistance Dog Izzie will be one of the graduates.

Why is this cause so important to you?

I applied to Collectively to sponsor a dog because my family has firsthand experience of how important these animals are. My wife Rachael and I have three children: Thea (12); Oisin (10); and Oscar (7). We’ve had three-year-old chocolate brown Labrador and autism Assistance Dog Izzie in our lives since March 2020 to support Thea and Oisin. Thea is Autistic and has Cerebral Palsy Right Hemiplegia and Oisin is also Autistic with an intellectual disability. Both Thea and Oisin are extremely sensitive to noise and have high levels of anxiety.

We initially applied for an Assistance Dog for Oisin as he responds so well to dogs after seeing them in my family. However, when we finally got Izzie, which took four years from when we first attended the pre-application workshops, she has ended up being a great support for Thea as well. When we’re out, Izzie works with Oisin and allows us to focus on Thea and support her. Since we’ve gotten Izzie, Oisin no longer runs away and being with her keeps his anxiety in check if he’s in a situation that increases his anxiety.

Why is this initiative so important to our Jacobs Employee Network, ACE?

The ACE network provides information, resources and networking opportunities regarding physical, mobility and cognitive disabilities to disabled staff and to staff who provide caregiving services, like me. Not everyone understands what parents of disabled children go through on a daily basis, but members of the ACE network do. This sponsorship exemplifies Jacobs’ commitment to supporting people with disabilities and other challenges – sponsoring an Assistance Dog that will eventually be placed with a family like mine or someone with a physical disability truly shows inclusion in the truest sense.

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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email [email protected] for more information.

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