TWO CANINE CELEBRITIES JOIN FORCES TO TEACH FIRE SAFETY AND HELP OTHERS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
Frankie and Sparkles~ Two Dog’s Rollin’
April 8th and 9th, 2010 were no ordinary days for two dogs known for inspiring others. Sparkles the Fire Safety Dog, along with her owner Firefighter Dayna Hilton, made the almost 900 mile trek from Clarksville, Arkansas, to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, to meet Frankie the Walk ‘n Roll Dog and her owner, Barbara Techel, in person (and “dog”) to work on some very special projects.
Frankie, a dachshund, suffered a debilitating spinal injury and now walks with the aid of a doggie wheelchair. For the past two years, Frankie has helped children of all ages realize that their challenges can be overcome by having a positive attitude, and that despite these challenges, they can be a contributing member of society in their own unique way.
Sparkles, a Dalmatian, has a unique story of her own. Rescued from a home with 62 other dogs in 2002, Sparkles now travels across the country with Hilton, educating children and their caregivers about fire safety. To date, this canine educator has been credited with helping save the lives of two children and their two families.
Meeting via Facebook in October 2009, Techel and Hilton first made history in February 2010 when Frankie and Sparkles “met” over Skype during Techel’s and Frankie’s presentation to Clarksville Primary School (http://www.frankieandsparkles.com/2010/02/frankie-and-sparkles-make-history.html).
While in Wisconsin, the four came together for their first presentation in person (and dog) together to elementary students at Elkhart Lake/Glenbeulah Elementary School, sharing the fire safety message and encouraging children to be of service by helping those with special needs.
The four also participated in a Skype visit to an elementary school in western Canada, sharing the importance of fire safety and encouraging children who may have family or friends with physical challenges to help them have a plan, among other fire safety messages, so they and their families and friends can help stay safe from fire. Karen Keys, District Digital Literacy Teacher, and Matthew, a Canadian Firefighter, also assisted with the event.
Of the event, Keys stated, “The Frankie and Sparkles buzz was everywhere at lunch! I got a great response from the teachers involved who thought it was a wonderful presentation! The kids LOVED IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My principal was very impressed with the whole event and so was Matthew the Fireman.... he couldn't wait to go back to the firehall to tell all the other firemen about it.”
Techel stated, “Skyping with Dayna and Sparkles, along with Frankie, to a classroom in western Canada was such a thrill! Because of school budget constraints as well as economic challenges I think Skype is such a win-win situation. And the ultimate winners are the children who were able to learn about fire safety from Sparkles, and being positive and helping others with special needs from Frankie's message. Combine that with helping kids learn technology, which is our future, and you create a highly motivational way for kids to grow and thrive.”
This was Hilton and Sparkles first time to participate in a presentation with Frankie and Techel via Skype in person. Hilton stated, “As a fire safety educator, Sparkles and I have participated in hundreds of fire safety presentations over the years. This event was very special in that not only did we share this presentation with our two very good friends, we concentrated our efforts on the importance of sharing the fire safety message with those with special needs. According to the National Fire Protection Association, physical disability was a factor in an average of 360, or 13%, of home fire deaths. Together, we hope to change this unfortunate statistic”
Other activities included a visit to the Elkhart Lake/Town of Rhine Fire District where Firefighters Rob Schmidet and Shane Hughes assisted with Frankie and Sparkles' upcoming e-books for children.
For more information on Frankie and Sparkles, please visit their blog at http://www.frankieandsparkles.com
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At 46, children's book authors Dayna Hilton and Barbara Techel have senior dogs whom they love deeply. Both credit their dogs for helping them find their purpose in life.
Techel, embracing technology, shares Frankie’s story of hope with children around the world via Skype. Hilton recommended Techel’s Frankie program via Skype to Clarksville Primary School in her home state of Arkansas, and the rest, as they say, is history~ literally.
In talking with Hilton one day via phone to thank her for the connection, an idea was hatched. Hilton shared with Techel, “What if Sparkles and Frankie were to meet via Skype? Imagine how thrilled the children would be to be a part of this!”
As far as the two knew, no two dogs had ever met via Skype and the event would be the first time Techel and Hilton would “meet” as well. The two were thrilled in knowing that there would be no better way to do this than in front of 500 plus children, elated with glee to witness this historic day. In addition, the two came to the realization that this would be an exciting way to bring two friends and educators together with their two special dogs to share their inspirational and life-saving messages.
Both will never forget that day. After sharing Frankie’s story, Techel was so proud to introduce Hilton and Sparkles, her friends, whom she adored and admired for their work. According to Techel, as she watched Hilton and Sparkles via Skype approach the front of the room, her eyes misted over. The moment brought her such joy to see the love that Hilton has for Sparkles and the passion she has for sharing her fire safety message with children (to watch the video of this amazing day, visit http://www.frankieandsparkles.com/2010/02/video-footage-of-frankie-and-sparkles.html). Hilton felt the exact same way as she watched in admiration the story of Frankie unfold before them and a room full of children.
Both are grateful for each others friendship and encouragement. Though the two are states away from each other, they feel a connection with each other as they continually inspire each other to be the best that they can be, knowing that they are just a click away on the computer.
Meeting for the 1st time!
Listening intently to the fireman as they show us the firestation
Getting a tour of Elkhart Lake/Town of Rhine Fire District firestation
Yup! My mom and Sparkles Mom have our pics and website plastered on back of their trucks
Sign made my children in Canada welcoming us on the Skype visit