New colouring book to honour late IWK dog Dorado, help kids understand emotions
The SeaStar Child and Youth Advocacy Centre will launch a colouring book Thursday to help children and youth understand emotions.
SeaStar brings together different agencies and services that respond to child abuse to create a coordinated approach that is child- and youth-friendly and trauma-informed.
While the new colouring book complements the information in SeaStar's workshops for caregivers of children who have experienced trauma, experts say the information is also relevant to everyone.
The new book will be released in memory of Dorado, an accredited facility dog who worked with SeaStar.
"Dorado was an amazing dog. I've never ever met another dog quite like him," said Kathy Bourgeois, a social worker with the Seastar Child and Youth Advocacy Centre.
Bourgeois was also Dorado's handler. The pair worked side-by-side for nearly four years.
Dorado was the first accredited facility dog in Atlantic Canada and one of only 45 in the country. He was specifically trained for his role with SeaStar, providing comfort and support to children, youth, and families, and helping to reduce anxiety and trauma.
In his time with SeaStar, Dorado worked with hundreds of young people and their families. He provided support to over 100 children and youth during forensic interviews with police and social workers, and was the first accredited facility dog in Nova Scotia to provide testimonial support to a child in court.
"He was trained by the Pacific Assistance Dog Society. They train working dogs to support people and also social workers like me," said Bourgeois.
"I've seen him do things like stand up and press his chest into kids. There was a child who started to like hyperventilate and he actually changed his breathing, his lungs are smaller than humans, right, so he changed so his child would match her breath to his breathing," she said.
Dorado passed away in July, just shy of his seventh birthday.
"It was actually quite sudden. He became ill. We didn't see a lot of signs. Basically, it was cancer," said Bourgeois.
Before Dorado's death, Seastar started to develop on a colouring and activity book to help kids understand emotions and compliment the information they provide to caregivers of children who have experienced trauma.
"Dorado did such incredible to work to support kids who are having big emotions and to help kids to feel calm and settled when they were dealing with something difficult," said Christina Shaaffer, co-author of the colouring book.
"We're really pleased that this colouring book is an opportunity to honour his memory and kind of continue on some of that incredible work."
"It's not like a traditional colouring activity book so the activities are kind of geared to help really ground kids and to give them some tools for managing emotions and really some more information about what emotions are," added Bourgeois.
The project was supported by a grant from the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia. The colouring books will be given to children and youth who visit SeaStar but will also be available for organizations to purchase. Families will also be able to download a copy of the colouring book for free from the Seastar Child and Youth Advocacy Centre website.