Canine cookies for a cause

For special-needs students, ASPIRE program offers boost in learning life skills

Tabatha Stewart
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 3/11/19

Coloradans love their canine companions. Many people spare no expense when it comes to the well-being, and sometimes spoiling, of beloved fur babies. Now, thanks to the students in the ASPIRE program …

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Canine cookies for a cause

For special-needs students, ASPIRE program offers boost in learning life skills

Posted

Coloradans love their canine companions. Many people spare no expense when it comes to the well-being, and sometimes spoiling, of beloved fur babies.

Now, thanks to the students in the ASPIRE program through Elizabeth School District, Elbert County canine owners can get healthy, delicious doggie treats made locally from high-quality, healthy ingredients.

The ASPIRE program is the school district’s Adult Students Preparing for Independence, Responsibility and Employment transition program that helps special-needs students ages 18 to 21 learn life and social skills. Students in the program started baking dog cookies several months ago, and selling them at school. The treats have become so popular that students have had to increase production to keep up with demand.

“My dog loves the cookies,” said Melissa Hoelting, communications director for Elizabeth School District. “The kids put a lot of thought into them, and they’ve become very popular.”

According to Becky Seidl, the long-term substitute teacher for the ASPIRE program at Frontier High School, the cookie venture has taught students several life skills.

“The students have learned how to follow a recipe, which includes measuring, and they also package all of the cookies themselves,” said Seidl. “They are learning about business, as we use money we earn to buy more ingredients. They are learning about business, and interacting with the community.”

Students made their first batches of cookies in October, and sent samples home with teachers, parents, other students, custodians and school-board members. They asked for feedback via a written survey, and most of the responses were positive.

“For the most part, they loved them. The only thing is that some of the cookies were too big for smaller dogs, so we decided to make two different sizes,” said Seidl. “The students learned that constructive criticism can be helpful in life.”

Cookies can be purchased at Frontier High, Running Creek Elementary and Elizabeth High School, as well as Gymnastics Etc., and at the Elbert County Marketplace each month. The ASPIRE group is also working with other interested businesses who would like to sell their treats. Students will use any money left over after buying ingredients to pay for field trips.

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