Capstone Pet Place

Capstone Pet Place

Grant Year: 2017 | Focus Area: Education | Grant Amount: $107,700 | Grant Status: Completed

Capstone Pet Place

Capstone Adaptive Learning and Therapy Centers, Inc.

Capstone Adaptive Learning and Therapy Centers, formerly known as United Cerebral Palsy of Northwest Florida (UCP), has advocated for inclusion and opportunity for individuals of all ages with developmental disabilities for the last 64 years. Their mission is advancing the independence for children and adults with a spectrum of abilities and disabilities. Over the years, they have successfully developed and implemented cutting edge programs and services for children and students who are primarily on Medicaid, low income, and have significant physical, medical, and cognitive disabilities. Capstone’s programs are geared toward serving those with the most complex, significant developmental disabilities, providing services no one else is providing, serving those who fall through the cracks and those that all others are incapable of serving. Capstone’s programs consist of group homes, day programs for adults and high schoolers, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy and nursing services. Nearly 2,000 infants, children, youth, and adults with and without developmental disabilities (autism, autism spectrum, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, intellectual disabilities, etc.) and their families were assisted in 2016 in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties through Capstone’s many programs, including the newly launched Capstone Academy in Milton.

Project Description

The objective of the proposed project is to offer on-site job hard skills and interpersonal soft skills training for high school aged students and adults with developmental disabilities (autism, cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, etc.) so they may gain real world experience in a controlled environment to eventually become gainfully employed. The Capstone Pet Place (CPP) will be located in Milton and will be the only stand-alone retail pet supply store in north Santa Rosa County selling pet food and supplies. IMPACT 100 funds, along with government grants, will be used to hire and train staff, provide curriculum items, equipment, marketing and promotional materials as well as inventory for the CPP. The store will sell items such as pet food, treats, and accessories such as bowls, toys, leashes and collars, pet houses, scratching posts and grooming items. An additional benefit of the project is the partnership opportunities with other organizations such as the Humane Society, a no-kill shelter, to provide pet owners in the Milton area with information on low-cost spay and neuter locations and to host pet adoption days at the store to save the lives of dogs and cats.

Community Impact

CPP will enhance job readiness for students with disabilities traditionally believed to be unemployable and fulfill their mission of advancing independence. Capstone’s adaptive learning strategies will include combining soft and hard skills training, providing actual work experience, and broadening access and educational opportunities for students. This approach will offer specialized skills with minimum sensory overload to enhance learning for those with sensory issues, such as autism. The lack of soft skills often hinders students from even getting an interview, particularly those with disabilities. The curriculum includes teaching students the appropriate personal space, proper hygiene, appropriate conversation, importance of a positive attitude and teamwork, and discipline and work ethic. The hard skills that will be taught in the retail store include stocking shelves, counting money, alphabetizing, and other basic business skills that would increase their future employability. CPP’s learning model will hone interview skills, resume writing, and job searches for eventual gainful employment. This program will increase the area’s pool of job ready applicants and will serve as a success model for other nonprofits and their constituents so they may replicate and become less dependent on government funds.