A guide dog puppy is supporting Health & Social Care and Early Years learners at Cheshire College to further their knowledge of the skills required when supporting those with visual impairments. Willow, the Golden Retriever, is currently training for her future role as a guide dog and is visiting the College’s Crewe Campus every Wednesday to meet with learners.
The 10 month old puppy is currently living with Learner Assessor in Childcare at the College, Diane Piggott, who volunteered to become a Puppy Raiser with Guide Dogs UK and was matched with Willow to provide her with a vital foundation ready for her future role as a guide dog.
Quickly realising how beneficial the puppy partnership would be for learners, Diane arranged for Willow to attend College once a week and she is now a firm favourite within the teaching team with staff and learners alike.
Lynne Rowland, Assistant Director of Health & Social Care and Early Years, commented: “Willow coming into College has been fantastic for our learners to gain a greater understanding of how to assist any future visually impaired patients and children they work with. The opportunity allows learners to put into practice what they have learnt in the classroom and essentially gain work experience on site with us.
“The importance of equality, diversity and inclusion is promoted throughout all of our study programmes here at Cheshire College and within our learning environments as a whole. Having Willow join us has been a brilliant way for learners to enhance their knowledge and understanding of this.”
It takes approximately 14 months for puppies to be trained as guide dogs, meaning young people joining the College this academic year will also be able to meet and learn with guide dogs, which has been mutually beneficial for Willow too.
Andrea Deller, Puppy Development Advisor for Guide Dogs, said: “Puppy Raising through Covid-19 has been a challenging time and our puppies have not had the same socialisation with people as they would have under normal circumstances. Attending the College has filled this gap in Willow’s socialisation and as a result she is calm, relaxed, and friendly with everyone she meets. This is so important for our dogs as they move on to be future life changers, giving people with sight loss the ability to live the life they choose.”
Health & Social Care and Early Years learners have also been incorporating their support for those with visual impairments into their enterprise activities, which has seen them hold non-uniform days and raffles in aid of Guide Dogs UK.
Health & Social Care and Early Years are rewarding and valued sectors to work in and qualifications at Cheshire College are taught by tutors with vast sector experience who provide learners with a broad understanding on the knowledge and specialist skills required to excel in their chosen industry.
There’s never been a better time to ‘Get In, Stand Out’. To attend one of Cheshire College’s on Campus enrolment sessions taking place between 9am-4pm every weekday and 10am-2pm on Saturday 4th September, click here.