Georgian researcher and Child and Youth Care students collaborate on research and social innovation project
March 08, 2017

A group of people and a black dog on a green leash.

Left to right: Mira Ray, Director of Applied Research, CARI; Dr. Catherine Drea, Vice President, Academic and Student Engagement; Jean Hargreaves, Chair of the Board, Sweet Charity; James, Sweet Charity canine ambassador dog; Dr. Howard Bloom, researcher; Casey Cassidy, Sweet Charity lead trainer.

Georgian College, Sweet Charity Medical Assistance Dogs and Georgian’s Centre for Applied Research and Innovation recently formalized a collaborative research agreement.

In the fall of 2016, Sweet Charity received an Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) grant to seed their new program. They leveraged part of the grant with a financial contribution to Georgian College. The purpose of the funding is to collaborate with Georgian researcher Dr. Howard Bloom and Child and Youth Care students to advance evidence-informed outcomes and experiences of its diabetes support and canine ambassador program.

As part of this project, James – recently trained by Sweet Charity as a canine ambassador dog – attends classes once a week with Bloom. The objective of James’ attendance is to reduce anxiety and stress in college students who learn life space counselling skills and ethics and professionalism as part of the Child and Youth Care program.

The collaboration is also a student field placement experience through Georgian’s Centre for Social Entrepreneurship. As part of their placement, a group of students will provide research assistance to Bloom and will advance entrepreneurial skillsets and mindsets to explore potential social enterprises for Sweet Charity to consider as it grows its core business.

The objectives of the research collaboration are to:

  1. Design tools to measure the outcomes of the Sweet Charity Diabetes Support Dog Program
  2. Research, evaluate and report the experiences and outcomes of the program
  3. Present the findings of the research in a written report to the organization’s board of directors
  4. Explore and present a range of possible social innovations/social enterprises for the organization