A 5-Day family oriented program designed to assist children and adults with special needs or illnesses. Individuals with special needs or illnesses work and play one-on-one with a trained therapist in the water with dolphins and in the classroom. The IDC team reviews each application thoroughly to recommend a program based on safety as well as the ability, medical condition and size of the participant. Sessions are individualized to meet each participant’s individual needs and strengths. IDC can assist families in finding hotel accommodations at special rates in the Key Largo area.
The relationship developed throughout the 5 days with the dolphins can provide increased self-esteem, increased attention, increased commitment to and trust of others, and increased motivation to continue attempting new tasks.
The 5 day program is offered through March through November and is limited to eight families each week. The cost is $2,200 per week. Applications are required. Scholarships may be available, based on proven financial need, for all Dolphin Experience Programs through the generous support of IDC philanthropic donors. All donations to IDC are tax-deductible and are used almost exclusively for scholarship support. Please refer to page 3 of the application for more information on scholarships.
A detailed description of the program is as follows:
The 5 Day Program consists of 1 structured swim session and 1 classroom session each day, Monday through Thursday. The program ends on Friday morning with a Family Swim:
Structured In-Water Sessions: (4 Individualized Structured Swim Sessions, 1 Each Day Monday – Thursday)
· Participant works and plays one-on-one with a dolphin and therapist.
· Activities are based on individual needs and abilities so each participant’s session differs.
· Activities range from hands-on interactions with the dolphin from the platform to in water interactions with the dolphin.
· Please note: Only the child and the instructor will be in the water with the dolphins during sessions.
Classroom Activities: (4 Individualized Sessions, 1 Each Day Monday – Thursday)
· Each participant takes part in a series of recreational and educational sessions with an IDC therapist.
· Activities are tailored to the needs and abilities of the participant and the goals set by the parents (or family). These sessions are designed to enhance and reinforce the water sessions.
· Various forms of art, play and other activities enhance gross motor skills, encourage socialization, teach basic academic skills, address sensory needs and motivate communication.
· IDC Therapists are trained professionals and are certified in special education, recreational therapy and psychotherapy. IDC has the latest assistive technology devices in the classrooms which can be useful for opening new avenues of communication for participants. If participants are interested in additional traditional or alternative therapies (ie., physical therapy, occupational therapy, massage, craniosacral therapy) during their stay in Key Largo, IDC has relationships with local practitioners that you can be referred to.
Family Swim: (Natural Swim for Participant & 1 Parent, Friday Morning)
· Participant swims with 1 parent in a natural swim with other parents/participants in the program. This is a 20 minute observational swim. The participant and his/her parent can enjoy the clicks, whistles and vocalizations of the dolphins that swim, splash and play all around them in a natural setting. This swim offers a wonderful opportunity to experience dolphins in their world while observing them exhibiting their natural behaviors.
· Families are encouraged to participate in sessions whenever therapeutically possible. When appropriate, families are invited to join us in the classroom sessions to learn strategies and techniques that can be applied in everyday life. Each sibling will have the opportunity at least once during the five day program (Monday – Thursday) to swim with the participant and dolphin as long as they are older than 3 years and able to follow directions in English. On Friday, the last day of the program, each participant may be joined by a parent or caregiver for a group swim with the dolphins. We have a weekly BBQ for families and participants to come together, relax, exchange experiences in a beautiful tropical thatched roof picnic area (usually on Wednesdays).
Fonzie’s Backyard Touch Tank Program
The entire family is welcome to investigate some of the smaller creatures that inhabit the waters of South Florida at our accessible touch tank.
Island Dolphin Care has implemented an interactive educational program that allows both typically developing and children with special needs to explore the ocean in the palm of their hand.
During Island Dolphin Care therapy programs, all families are invited to explore the aquariums in the fonzitorium, visit the Fonzie’s Backyard touch tank, and listen to the sounds our dolphins make underneath the water through a hydrophone.
In the Island Dolphin Care Fonzitorium, your family can explore 8 different marine environments. Families learn about seahorses, watch Moray eels eat, and experience the beauty of a coral reef through our aquatic habitats. Interactive displays provide a tactile and educational experience for the entire family. A specially designed bed allows for children with special needs to leave the confines of their wheelchairs and relax in front of a coral reef environment.
For a better look at the Island Dolphin Care 5-day program, please view the video segment aired on the Today Show in the spring of 2005 or the episode of Turning Point created by BYU.