Queena Swims With the Dolphins!

In March of 2014, Queena attended a week-long dolphin assisted therapy program at Island Dolphin Care, in Key Largo, Florida.  She attended with her mom, her sister and her caretaker.  Each day, Queena and the therapy team played in the water with a dolphin named Squirt and then headed up to the classroom to create different art projects.  The goal for the week was to relax and have fun. 

The therapy team and Queena rode on a mechanical lift into the water each day.  The trainer then sent the dolphin to pick the therapist and Queena up and brought them back to the dock where they engaged in many different behaviors with the dolphin.  The therapist assisted Queena in the water and helped her to open her arms and hands so that she could hold the dolphin’s fins, give her kisses, rub her back and belly and swim along-side her.  Some of the most remarkable moments during the week were when Queena and Squirt, the dolphin, engaged in the slower behaviors.  Queena was able to relax on the surface of the water with her elbow resting on Squirt’s fin as the dolphin swam her in a circle.  It was clear that being in the water, with the dolphin and the therapist, required an incredible amount of trust on the part of Queena. However, she visibly relaxed as the week progressed.  She responded to the therapist’s prompts to relax her arm and open her hand in order to interact with the dolphin. 

The classroom time provided an opportunity for Queena to get to know the therapy team (i.e., the therapist and 2 interns).  Queena made choices by looking at the preferred project or paint color.  The therapist and her caretaker assisted her to stretch her arms and grasp the paint brush.  She decorated a beautiful wooden mermaid and painted a dolphin on a t-shirt.  These keepsakes are objects that she can take with her and remember her many successes at Island Dolphin Care.
Island Dolphin Care, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization, is a magical place where dolphin therapy brings people with special needs, children at risk, wounded veterans and their families joy and the discovery of new abilities. Parents and participants reclaim hope, shed stress and find inspiration through activities centered on dolphin human therapy. www.islanddolphincare.org

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