Special needs students write 'Ella the Dog' book about service animals

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OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Karen Alsup drives an hour to Arc of Anderson County every day so her daughter, Alexis, can have a safe place to express her creativity.

"She doesn't like to miss. It's one of her most favorite things to do," Alsup said.

Alexis is one of several teens and adults who attend summer classes with Arc, a family-based organization that advocates for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Alexis and the others create crafts, do science projects and sometimes break out in song.

This year, they also decided to write a book together. Ella the Dog is about a lost dog someone finds at Dollywood.

"He had a kind voice, and she was so glad to see him kneel down and offer her his hand," student Alex read from the book.

When Ella has puppies, each one becomes a service dog for people with special needs. The mother dog illustrated in the students' book is actually modeled after Charlotte, Arc Director Dargie Arwood's pet. Charlotte sometimes visits the Arc classroom.

Arwood said the class is very proud of its accomplishment in writing the book. Students vary in their communications abilities, but they all contributed in some way.

"It's a great feeling to write a book like this," Alex said.

You can support the Arc program by purchasing the Ella the Dog book directly from Arc of Anderson County.