NEEDS ASSISTANCE :
Needs Program: Assisting guests with special needs
to participate in DRC's interactive programs
Special Needs Program assists and enables individuals
with various physical or mental challenges,
chronic, or life threatening illnesses to participate
in any of the public interactive programs offered
at DRC. Dolphin Encounter, Dolphin Dip, Meet
the Dolphin and DRC's other educational programs
are recreational interactions that can offer
the opportunity for individuals to experience
an encounter with a dolphin or sea lion. The
Special Needs Program helps to remove the barriers
to these interactions by providing private
workshops, specialized equipment, and in-water
or on the docks assistance, if needed.
For complete descriptions
and prices of Dolphin Research Center’s interactive
programs, please click to visit Get
Wet with a Dolphin.
Through the years, the
Special Needs Program has changed and grown and
DRC has had the privilege of accommodating very
special people of all ages, from all over the United
States and around the world.
Our program goal is to provide individuals with special needs and their families
with moments of joy and laughter, which can be dramatically different from
their usual routine of hospitals, doctors, treatments and challenges. Our experience
has shown that including family members and friends in the program provides
a unique shared adventure for everybody. Parents tell us the Dolphin
Encounters, DolphinDip and dockside
interactions are one of the few experiences that their children with special
needs and their siblings have participated in together.
Many of the interactions are paid for by the individual, their family,
On occasion, the
participants may be sponsored by "wish granting" organizations
such as Make-A-Wish Foundation, Sunshine Foundation,
Starlight Foundation, Childrens Wish Foundation,
The Dream Foundation, Dream Come True, Dream Factory,
Easter Seal Society, Childrens Hope and Dream
Foundation, or any of the various foundations worldwide.
A "wish" to swim or interact with dolphins
offers a welcome respite from the stress of dealing
with a serious illness as well as providing motivation
to reach beyond current capabilities.
Although the sessions are under a trainer's guidance, we have often seen our
dolphins innately change their style or actions when interacting with people
in the Special Needs Program. Dolphins seem to be able to differentiate a person's
needs and treat them accordingly. There are many stories which illustrate the
dolphins' ability to use their echolocation to pick up physical differences
such as a metal plate or a healed bone. Here are a few examples that describe
what it is like to work with the special dolphins and special people who come
together at DRC (some names have been changed).
for Guests with Special Needs
Dolphin Research Center welcomes
guests with special needs. We assist and enable individuals
to participate in the interactive programs by removing
the barriers with specialized equipment and in-water
or on-the- dock assistance, if needed. For the guest’s
safety and comfort, we must be advised if there are
any physical or mental conditions that could affect
a guest's participation so we may plan accordingly
to meet those needs. For more information and to
make a reservation contact us at email@example.com.
If email is unavailable, please call (305) 289-1121
Ext. 232. Our Special Needs Coordinator will be happy
to assist you Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM
to 4:00 PM EST.
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SPECIAL NEEDS DOLPHIN PATHWAYS PROGRAM :
Five Day Program Monday-Friday
Recreational, motivational, educational program for
children and adults with special needs.
A joy-filled, goal-oriented 5-day program swimming and
playing with dolphins.
- Five specially designed dolphin sessions. Two swims. Three docksides.
- Five specially designed classroom sessions.
Dolphin Research Center is a not-for-profit education and research facility that is
home to a colony of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions. Located on
Grassy Key, Florida, our animals live in a natural environment in the Gulf of Mexico.
Program participants enjoy a hands-on experience in this special setting.
The Special Needs Pathways Program is an individualized program designed for
children and adults
with special needs. Sessions are designed to help assist the
individual work towards personal goals established by family and DRC staff. Entering into
the dolphins world, educational and recreational activities are introduced to help
increase motivation and enhance the personalized experience.
Participants may learn to
feel more positively about themselves in an environment that promotes fun, play and
learning, which provides them with the opportunity to bridge that experience back into
their personal lives. Most of all, they are able to have a fun-filled time away
from the stress of medical, physical, or emotional concerns.
The activities range from hands-on interactions with a
dolphin from the floating dock (e.g.. painting with a dolphin, touching the dolphins for
kisses, learning signals which elicit certain behaviors from the dolphins, and playing
games with balls and rings with the dolphins) to in-water interactions with the dolphin. During the last swim session, two family members may also take part in the in-water
experience, creating a family memory that will last a lifetime. In painting with a dolphin, each participant creates a one-of-kind Dolphin
Art T-shirt during a dockside session.
One-on-one interactions with the dolphins may be just what the individual needs to reach
beyond their day-to-day routine and try new things.
Dolphins are the catalysts which stimulate the motivational
and play levels of the participants during the two swim sessions and three dockside
sessions. Activities are based on the needs and abilities of the individual. Each
persons session differs.
The educational and recreational classroom sessions are
tailored to each individuals needs and abilities. Most participants will work on
various creative activities with a dolphin based theme. Individualized goals are first
introduced in the classroom. The classroom sessions support and reinforce the dolphin
A video capturing one of the dolphin
swim sessions and one of the
dockside sessions is included for the participant to take home, view and recall the
special moments experienced during the program.
- Cost of the Five-Day Program: $2100 US dollars
- Non-refundable deposit: $1050 US dollars
- Deposit required at time of scheduling
- Payment in full required two weeks before scheduled session
- Dolphin Research Center accepts MasterCard, VISA, and Discovery credit cards
Until we receive your deposit, the dates are not final. Please refrain from making
travel plans until we have confirmed dates and received your deposit.
Any participant with a seizure disorder must provide a doctors release stating
that the person is able to participate fully and safely in the program.
To Apply for Personalized 5-day Goal
Oriented Program >>> Click Here
(Must have Adobe Acrobat Reader Installed)
Mailing and contact information:
Dolphin Research Center
Special Needs Pathways Program
58901 Overseas Highway
Grassy Key, FL 33050-6019
Director: Joan Mehew
phone: (305) 289-1121 ext. 228
fax: (305) 743-7627
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