MIRA Foundation Pairs Students and Dogs
Mira Foundation USA, a national nonprofit based in Aberdeen, and the only organization in the United States dedicated to providing guide dogs to blind children and youth between 11-17, announces that on July 3, four students from various locations traveled to MIRA Canada to begin training to receive a dog.
"This is our third year of providing this service," commented Beth Daniels, MIRA's executive director. "When our students graduate this year at the end of July, we will have 12 MIRA dogs hard at work in various locations across the country. We are so pleased by the ongoing feedback we receive from the students, their family members, friends, and school administrators, and we are truly grateful to the very generous donors who make our work possible."
MIRA dogs are currently at work in California and North and South Carolina, and this year's class will expand the geographic reach to Pennsylvania and Michigan.
Furthermore, yet another student from North Carolina, Preston Davis III from Fayetteville, will be receiving a dog in July.
Davis is an accomplished musician who is planning on majoring in music at Campbell University when he enrolls in September.
Local residents Samantha Duerring, of Vass, and Aldevon (A.J.) Johnson, of Carthage, have had their MIRA dogs for almost a year.
"Since guide dogs in schools, especially at the lower levels, are quite novel in this country, it is not unusual for school administrators to express some concerns about possible disruption in the classroom due to the dog's presence," said Daniels. "Aiken (S.C.) High Principal Garen Coffer has provided eloquent testimony to the positive impact that freshman Ryan Uhle and his MIRA dog have had on the 1,500 sighted students at the school.
"It has been fabulous having a guide dog in our school," said Coffer. "The dog is super cool. The dog sits right up under the desk. You wouldn't imagine a kid and an animal could co-exist in a classroom with 30 to 40 students and not be a distraction, but they're not. It is a thing of beauty to watch."
Historically in the United States, blind children have had to wait until age 18 to receive a guide dog due to overwhelming demand of adults on existing U.S. agencies and a lingering belief that younger children are not mature enough to manage a dog.
Working in partnership with MIRA Canada, the only organization in the world dedicated to training guide dogs for children, MIRA USA is embracing the challenge of naysayers by quietly and systematically dispelling this myth, one heroic dog at a time.
To learn more about MIRA USA visit www.mirausa.org.
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