Hello! My name is Kelby Sappington and I am a senior in Blue Ridge Virtual Governor's School. Over the past school year, I have been working with a local nonprofit organization called Service Dogs of Virginia (SDV). The focus of my project has been studying how effective service dogs are in helping a family cope with the difficulties of having an autistic child. For my internship, I have had the unique opportunity to work with an autistic child and his service dog and have thus gotten incredible hands-on experience.

I've also created a Junior Ambassador Program for SDV, the purpose of which is to get children involved in the organization and to positively affect their community. The Junior Ambassadors have participated in numerous activities, including holding a dog wash as a fundraiser and bringing service dogs to an assisted living facility to visit with the elderly residents. I'm hoping the Junior Ambassador Program will continue even after I am gone and that the Junior Ambassadors will continue to affect their community in a positive way.