Our Founders


Island Dolphin Care, Inc. (IDC) was created in 1997 to help children with special needs and their families. Over the years our programs have expanded now including adults, veterans, with family members. People that attend our programs often have a developmental and/or physical disabilities, emotional challenge, and critical, chronic or terminal illness. Island Dolphin Care believes that everyone deserves the opportunity to play, giggle and have fun! Island Dolphin Care, Inc., was created by Ms. Deena Hoagland, LCSW, after witnessing the remarkable recovery of her son, Joe. Deena and her husband, Peter, hoped that swimming with the dolphins might motivate Joe to use the left side of his body-weakened from a stroke which occurred during his third open-heart surgery. Joe had not responded well to traditional physical, occupational, and speech therapies. Joe began to make progress physically and psychologically in a natural, non-threatening, fun setting. He took pleasure and satisfaction in completing exercises, assisted by the unconditional support from the dolphins. Joe responded well to this “new” approach, increasing muscle tone and flexibility, as well as increasing his self-esteem. With the support of the dolphins, especially his dolphin friend “Fonzie,” Joe was able to normalize his young life. Deena hypothesized that if dolphins could help Joe feel better about himself, and motivate him to try new tasks, then the dolphins might also help others. A variety of children with special needs could experience therapeutic success in an environment less threatening than standard medical settings.

Since 1990, Deena has worked with many children and adults from around the world with various educational, emotional, and physical needs. The program provides unique educational experiences that provide opportunities for participants to develop skills, and become more expressive. Once home participants often experience a greater commitment and increased motivation during traditional therapies.

Deena Hoagland graduated from the University of Denver with a Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the States of Colorado and Florida. Deena has worked in many clinical and educational settings, and is a psychotherapist and certified hypno-therapist.

Island Dolphin Care is a 501(c)3 not for profit organization, We invite you to meet our therapy staff, learn about our programs, explore resources for families, volunteer and meet our dolphins.

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