In Russia, people with Down Syndrome are rejected. People believe they are unable to work, so in the entire country only four people with Down Syndrome are employed. Pedigree wanted to change that and change perceptions of people with Down Syndrome. So they trained a bunch of people to train dogs. Because unlike humans, dogs don't have the same sort of prejudice.
During the project ‘pUp syndrome’ 5 participants were visiting the Dog Training Centre and the hotel for dogs – a place where animals are in need of special attention and care because they are away from their owners. Young people learned how to work, to be independent and responsible caring for the animals. Dogs helped them to become more self-reliant and executive. It became the First Professional Adaptation Programme for people with Down syndrome in Russia.
Mars, Pedigree's parent company, is taking it one step further. They have committed to hiring five people with down syndrome to work in a new dog center in the Ulyanovsk region, of Russia, which will open in 2017.
Very moving piece.