Students with Disabilities in Dublin Produce Dog Treats for Sale
Dublin’s Bow-Wow Bakery has closed its doors after just a month in operation, much to the dismay of many of its loyal customers. But the bakery won’t be closed for long – as part of the Dublin School’s “Learning Is Fostering Empowerment” or LIFE program, Bow-Wow Bakery must close for summer break just as the school does. The LIFE program kicked off last fall and is meant to help post-secondary students who have disabilities learn skills to help them transition into adult life.
In an interview with Dispatch.com, Kellie Hughes, an intervention specialist for the Dublin School District stated, “We started LIFE this year to expand programming for kids who met graduation requirements but still receive school services.” LIFE is housed within Dublin’s Grizzell Middle School and the program works to promote social interaction, self-advocacy, healthy leaving, and independence. The desired outcome for students in the program is that they learn skills that will help them gain employment.
When Bow-Wow Bakery became part of the LIFE program, Hughes did not view the dog treat production as an important cornerstone of a positive job-training initiative and definitely not as a way for the school to make money. Making the treats started out as a fun way to practice baking, and the treats were given to the service dog at the school as well as sent home with students for their family pets. The overwhelming feedback that Hughes received on the treats convinced her that she and the LIFE program participants may just have a very marketable and sellable product.
The school’s curriculum already included basic food preparation, meaning the students already had access to kitchen appliances to produce the dog treats. But Hughes was able to take Bow-Wow Bakery one step further by securing a grant to buy additional equipment and supplies for the LIFE program to produce the dog biscuits on a larger scale. Hughes was able to work the supply purchases into a learning experience for the students – “We started with grocery shopping and gave them a budget,” Hughes said. “They did the grocery shopping, made the purchases and put everything away.”
The Bow-Wow Bakery officially opened as a business in late April of this year. Their menu featured Dog treat flavors including peanut butter, breath-mint bones and even canine honey cakes. Customers can purchase their dog biscuits at a prices of three treats for one dollar will all of the proceeds going to help fund the LIFE program and offset the costs of doing recreational activities with the students such as swimming, ice skating, and bowling when they are not baking delicious dog treats.