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Island Dolphin Care

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Health, Rehabilitative Care

Mission: TO PROVIDE UNIQUE, THERAPEUTIC AND EDUCATIONAL DOLPHIN ASSISTED THERAPY PROGRAMS, FOR SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN, ADULTS AND FAMILIES.

Programs: Island dolphin care provides recreational & educational animal assisted therapy programs utilizing atlantic bottle nose dolphins to a wide range of participants. Island dolphin care programs support children, and adults with disabilities, chronic & terminal illnesses, participant's family members as well as veterans & military personnel that have been injured while in service to our country. The island dolphin care center provides marine science education to school children on field trips as well as to all visitors from the general public to the center. Our mobile touch tank brings an interactive learning lab that teaches students about invertebrates to school children of all ages. Additionally the mobile touch tank is brought to fairs and introduces invertebrates to the general public. All of our marine science education programs provide knowledge about conservation, protecting our oceans, its inhabitants and resources for future generations. Idc programs enable participants with disabilities to discover, achieve their goals, strengths, and to reach toward their fullest potential. All of the therapeutic programs at island dolphin care are implemented by trained therapists, and special education teachers. The program utilizes traditional treatment methods and pairs them with the extraordinary experience interacting with dolphins. This creates a unique and motivating therapy. The programs provide participants and their families with new resources, tools and techniques. All idc programs educate & inform participants, their families and the general public about the benefits of the animal assisted therapy provided at island dolphin care. Our achievements: time -out five day programs: these programs provide 5-day intensive therapy programs to participants that have a disability or illness and their family members. An average of 8 families per week attend the five day family program from march until november. Five day programs - 243 families attended the 5-day therapy program. Families (117) unable to afford to pay for this program received scholarships in order to attend. 37 additional programs were provided to children and families that were in need of a specialized private program due to circumstance or illness. Camps - (one -day camps) 18 one day camp programs were provided to children that have a disability, special need or illness. Family members or staff caring for them also attend. Ten of the nineteen camp programs were provided at no cost to the participants, family members or staff. These programs were funded through philanthropic support. Dolphin talks: (half day programs12 were provided to children with a disability, special need or illness, their families and staff all attended at no cost. These programs were funded by philanthropic support. Veterans & military personnel: veterans that have a disability or special need, attended 39 programs that have provided peer support and therapeutic benefits to those returning injured in combat. These programs were provided at no cost to the participants, their family members or caregivers and were funded through philanthropic support. 25 (adult) one day programs were provided to those in need of specialized programs. Community swim programs- community members from monroe county florida having a disabled or ill family member have attended a recreational swim program each fall since 1990. 150 community members were invited to participate in this program. All swimmers attend at no cost. Approximately 40 swimmers were provided swims through this program. Each year we estimate that approximately 4,000 visitors come to the center to participate in public education programs. Idc provided 61 marine science education programs at our facility. The portable touch tank program was brought to school students throughout south florida. The touch tank was also brought to many street fairs where thousands of individuals from the general public were introduced to invertebrates idc participates in florida surfers for autism events bringing art activities and the portable touch tank to the beach during the summer months throughout the state of florida. The event provides a day at the beach for children and their families having a member with autism. Children that wish to learn to surf are provided with surf experiences. Our staff volunteer to be a part of these terrific weekend events. At each event beachgoers from the event as well as the general public were introduced to invertebrates in our touch tank and enjoyed learning about them.

Community Stories

35 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Where to begin! I was told about Island Dolphin Care by a upstanding and well known resident of the Florida Keys. When he found out that we had a home of adopted children that came from hard places, he immediately sent us there. I met with Deena and we became fast friends. She understood where I was coming from and wanted so desperately to help our family. We attended our first week long program in 2011 and I can't even begin to tell you the difference it made in our family. We went on to experience some additional trauma the next year, so IDC invited us back. We have been a few times and plan to return this May. We are beyond grateful and blessed to be part of the iDC family. Deena, Pete, Joe and the rest of the staff are simply amazing!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son was diagnosed with ASD at 2 1/2 yrs. He's had 4 visits and seems to be more alert after his visits. The instructors have made great breakthroughs with him and the dolphin are a joy. Thank you for being there for our kids! XOXO

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was a volunteer at IDC in 2007! The experience I had was incredible because I was given the opportunity to see incredible things happen. To this day, I tell stories about the amazing changes I saw in kids, in only 1 week at IDC. What an amazing place to get away and not forget reality but face it with some extremely welcoming arms (and fins)!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

It was an amazing day for me. I suffer from a spinal cord injury from the military. That day my left leg was in excruciating pain do to my nerve damage. I was to be pushed by both dolphins one on each foot. I was hesitant not letting that happen. So when I dolphins swim around to start pushing me, I noticed that the dolphin on my left side was barely touching me and the dolphin on the right side was doing all the work. So I asked the trainer if they would do it again the same to set of dolphins came over and i had the exact same reaction. So I ask the trainer if we can get two different dolphins and tried again. When both Dolphins so I'm around it happened a third time. The put a smile on my face and made me laugh a little bit. It goes to show you the intelligence of the animal and sensing what was wrong. When one animal shows compassion to another animal it shows that we can all get along in this world. I left there that day knowing that my life would be different from that point on I do look at things differently now. The affections about the Dolphins have showed me and the affectionate with the staff has showed me at Island Dolphin care will forever be ingrained in me.

To Island Dolphin care and to the staff I thank you for what you have shown me. I am forever grateful for that day.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Island Dolphin Care is an amazing place. Many of the families that come here have never seen a dolphin or interacted with one! Their lives are changed forever after they spend time here.
It is truly amazing to see the joy and happiness that they experience here and the fact that they can forget their problems for just a little while. The staff is wonderful and most of the families come back every year, making it their annual vacation. I am very lucky to be part of such a wonderful organization and able to contribute to it's success.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am amazed by how attentive everyone is to clients, to people coming in from the general public with questions, to the volunteers. They really do care here. And beyond that, the work they do is simply awesome. I look forward to seeing more happy families doing their program.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Island Dolphin Care is the place I found after I retired. The dedication and peace that the staff and volunteers gave to the children, families, the military is what makes it magical. Thank you'

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was an intern here years ago. The staff was built up with some of the most caring and patient people you could find. The children were always so overjoyed to be there, whether in the art class or swimming with the dolphins. Animal assisted therapy is a tough road to maintain and IDC does it brilliantly.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started to volunteer with Island Dolphin Care (IDC) in March 2017 and shortly realized that this was a "dream come true" organization. It combines all my loves in one place...children, families, people, and dolphins! I am a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) from Pennsylvania and have experience working as a children and family therapist as well as recent experience with animal (dolphin) care and training. I believe in this organization and what they are accomplishing through animal (dolphin) assisted therapy to help children and adults with special needs. They also have a unique and very special veterans program that helps support our troops. Overall, it is a great place that does a lot of good for a lot of people all over the world as well as locally in the community. They are now offering tours to the public, so call to schedule a tour or stop by today to see this amazing facility!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Island Dolphin Care is by far one the best not-for-profit organizations I have had the privilege to work with. Their team is made up of many compassionate, driven people focused on the same goal: to provide an extraordinary therapeutic experience. It is a client-centered and family focused organization that provides week-long therapy programs to individuals with special needs, as well as day programs for U.S. Veterans. I have seen first hand how motivating the therapy sessions are for these individuals and how rewarding the experience is for the whole family. Island Dolphin Care is definitely a must see place in Key Largo. Please consider stopping by for a tour of the facility, and to hear the amazing story about how it all began. I also urge you to consider donating to this worthy cause. Your money will be making a world of a difference to these families.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Transformative healing experience walking around the center. You can see and feel clients healing with their interactions. You must take the opportunity to experience the magic. The dolphins are also neat, the staff great!!!!…..PLEASE HELP IDC WORK THE MAGIC…..

George50

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am so blessed to volunteer at Island Dolphin Care. I get to personally see how the classroom and Dolphin therapy affects both the special needs clients and the families/caretakers of them. I am retired US Army and seeing the Veteran programs that get our veterans in the water with the Dolphins holds a very special place in my heart. If you know someone who has a special needs family member, please refer them to Islanddolphincare.org and check out the program. If you don't know anyone but still want to help please donate so we can continue to change lives..

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a current volunteer and I have to tell you that this is a very spiritual place to me. To see how the staff interact with the children and families is amazing. I have seen children do amazing things during the therapy that they hadn't done before. I am retired US Army and the veteran program has a special place in my heart. The entire staff is amazing and I love going in and helping with programs. If you haven't donated before or even if you have please help them continue the very special work that they do.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a volunteer at Island Dolphin Care I enjoyed eight years interacting with special needs children and wounded veterans. It has been an uplifting experience for my soul to be able to contribute for this wonderful cause. It is a happy place to go, where people with special needs find comfort, joy and love.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Island Dolphin Care is an amazing place filled with wonderful people who are all striving to make the world a better place. I have seen first-hand just how meaningful this experience can be, and to see a smile on the face of a child who has been through so much is simply priceless. This is a non-profit worth donating your time and money to, and I can assure you it is all going to a wonderful place. IDC is one of the best places on earth!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Island Dolphin Care is a magical place. As soon as you walk in the door a warm feeling and relaxed atmosphere greets you along with smiling faces from staff. There is no second place like this one and I would never like to miss a single minute I got to spend there!

Client Served

Rating: 5

We love IDC! When you have a child with a disability you are always looking for something that motivates them and makes them be the best they can be. That is what happens at IDC! We love it so much we created a nonprofit to send other children there! The smiles that happen there are infectious!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

One of the best places in the world. I did an internship in 2004 and it was a great experience! The whole team does a great job. It was a wonderful time with lots of unique moments.

Biron V.

Client Served

Rating: 5

This is the best place in the world for love and caring and has helped my family immensely.

Rebecca160

Client Served

Rating: 5

Nurturing and selflessly supportive, the staff and volunteers amazed me every day of my five-day Art, Dolphin and Pilates therapy. As a veteran with invisible disability issues, I not only felt unconditionally accepted, but also challenged to let myself enjoy and explore the depths of the healing programs. As often as possible, I continue to urge other veterans to seriously consider participation. Whether alone, as I did, or in a group; this unique opportunity offers the anticipation, participation and reflection that builds positive memories. Plus valuable tools, for an emotionally healthy future. Semper Fi, Rebecca Johnston. U.S. Marine, Retired

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

"Call it what you want, i call it love..."
I can still remember the warm and sunny spring day in 1988 when our Michelle was born. As time went by doctors diagonised her with Microcephalie. She won`t be able to sit or to stand without help. She will never be able to eat by her own or even talk. On a late February evening in 1996 i had some time to kill and turned on the television. The presenter even announced a documentation about dolphins and disabled children. During the whole program i had this feeling that someone was pulling my arm saying to me: "Go on. Do it."
On October 28. in the same year Michelle touched dolphin Squirt the very first time. I never heard her laugh like that before and her eyes were beautifully glowing in the sun.
After two weeks of Dolphin Therapy Michelle was like brand new. Not only her hands, her whole body was relaxed. She could hold up her head and this way it was easier for her to focus and with her hands open she could easily hold things with her fingers. And.... she was trying to stand up with my help. Michelle seemed to enjoy herself. It was very difficult to leave Key Largo and the dolphins, but we knew we will come back. We have kept the promise up to now. This fall it will be our 20. return to IDC. Dolphin Therapy is a zest for life. Seeing Michelles eyes lighten up and experience her happiness is such the greatest gift for us.
The therapy center is a magical place. Everyone who goes there finds a wide open door and is welcome wholeheartedly. The time that we spend there is such great precious family time.
This is our own personal story. It might encourage someone out there to fight for change. One thing that I know for sure is that, some of the things happen to our lives had to happen, because they happen for a reason. Some might call it destiny, others bad luck or fate or maybe "bad cards". But even with bad cards you still have a chance to play smart.
That is exactly what Deena (Director of IDC) did. We are so thankful, to have known this wonderful awesome person with the big heart. She let us, together with IDC be a part of her life story, always giving us new impulse and strength and to realize the possibilities we have in us.