diabetic child with dog, a story of smell

Education of medical assistance dogs for young diabetic patients

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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize and, based on its description, I am eligible to apply:

  • Yes, I’m eligible
  • Yes, I’m 18 years old or older

Should you be successful, please confirm your availability to attend:

  • Additional Skype interview(s) during the week of March 16-20th 2020
  • The Purina BetterwithPets Forum in Paris, on 3-4th of June 2020

Initiative's representative name

Solène Grivolat Président, and Florine Munier responsable

Initiative's representative date of birth


Initiative's representative gender

  • Woman

Headquarters location: country

  • France

Headquarters location: city

Centre Domazane, 26250 Livron-Sur-Drôme FRANCE

Where are you making a difference?

ACADIA is the first and only association in France, that trains and gives dogs to diabetic families all over the French territory. ACADIA works with dogs selected from rescues and shelters. They get a chance for a great new life, and the bond between them and the disabled people is strong.

Website or social media url(s)

www.acadia-asso.org https://www.facebook.com/acadia.asso https://www.instagram.com/acadia26/ ACADIA on television and in newspapers: http://www.acadia-asso.org/les-actus

Date Started


Focus Areas

  • Fostering emotional intelligence and behavioural competences
  • Promote inclusivity
  • Enhance physical activity and wellness
  • Re-imagining the role of pets in society

What is your current yearly budget for the initiative? If you are an idea stage, what early budget you would need to kick-off and run operations in your first year?

  • €100k - €250k

Organisation Type

  • nonprofit/NGO: an organisation that uses its resources to achieve a purpose outside of creating profit

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.

Solène and Arnaud have a child whose name is Théo, a diabetic inulin-dependent boy since the age of 2 years. During a trip in Canada, they have discovered how dogs can help people with diabete. They have decided to import this method in France to help the numerous families with a disabled child like them. This is how the ACADIA association was born.

2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

These dogs can help manage diabetes, alert to an oncoming seizure and assist during and after an episode. They can get help, retrieve glucose tabs, a drink or medications, press a button to call rescue or a relative and much much more. The dog is a friend and a child's confidant. With the dog, the child becomes more self-confident and independent. Parents are also relieved. The dog improves the quality of life for the whole family

3. Your solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Our challenge 2020 is the training of 10 service dogs ! ACADIA works with 10 dog trainers in positive method to train dogs. The training lasts about 8 months before the free delivery to a family. We are helped by an American trainer: Jennifer Cattet. 1st step: the selection of dogs in shelters 2nd step: training dogs with dog trainers. Dogs learn 30 behaviors, 10 of which are related to diabetes: looking for the specific odor, poke, alert button, going for help, object report (...). He also learns to behave well in public places to be able to accompany his young beneficiary everywhere (school, store, buss). 3rd step: the selection of families 4th stage: the delivery internship. The family comes to get to know their future companion for 10 days in order to learn all the behaviors necessary for the success of the pair. 5th step: monitoring the dog in the family

4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?

ACADIA is an innovative organization because it is the first in France to work with dogs selected from rescues and shelters. ACADIA is the only one working on the subject of medical assistance dogs for diabetic children in France. Also, our association is carrying out a scientific project whose the goal is to quantify the improvement in the quality of life brought by dogs to families (diabetes, schooling, social and mental, ...).

5. How does your project harness the pet-human bond to help people develop important social competencies (For example: emotional intelligence, collaboration, empathy, resilience, inclusivity) and overcome serious societal issues (for example: violence, abuse, trauma, isolation, abandonment)?

ACADIA coaches future beneficiaries during the dog handing courses. Young sick people learn to be responsible for an animal. A strong relationship is created, the dog and the child help each other every day. The child accepts his illness, and alongside the dog he socializes. He becomes an ambassador of diabetes on the street, and participates in raising public awareness of his illness and animal welfare. ACADIA also wishes through these beautiful stories to improve the image of abandoned dogs and encourage adoptions.

6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?

ACADIA has given nine dogs since 2018 to families with a diabetic child. There is the testimony of Hugo, 16 years old living with Medley after 1 year, ACADIA assistance dog: "You should know that for me, Medley is all. For him whether I am diabetic or not, he loves me. He helps me in my life every day, I couldn't ask for more. I am much better at stabilizing myself. He has alerted me to 40 blood sugar attacks in 3 months. It is a huge support that allows me to forget my illness for a long moment." Hugo found the carefree attitude of a teenager of his age. With the scientific project ACADIA studies the quality of life of families before / after the delivery of the service dog. Some diabetics have reduced their insulin dose by 3, others have returned to their normal HB1AC, Everyone has better sleep and better results at school. Those are very good preliminary results for the study

7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?

Like Hugo, there are 25,000 sick insulin-dependent children in France. In order to respond to all these family requests, the ACADIA team has become more professional and larger. We count on the help of 10 dog trainers, 2 administrative employees, 20 volunteers, 100 members. ACADIA started with 5 partners in 2017 for a budget of € 30,000, today we have more than 40 partners with us to meet the 2020 challenge. In the long term ACADIA could develop other structures on the territory. It's good to live at ACADIA, it's a great Human and Canine adventure !

8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for different stakeholders?

ACADIA provides an innovative solution to the population of young diabetics for better management of their health and their disease. ACADIA's partners like companies entance this social partnership towards their employees and their clients. ACADIA's social networks tall a lot about its partners and the association arganizes some events to rise awarness of diabete. ACADIA was able to create and federate a united network touched by the powerful link between man and animal.

9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

The French law impose the free delivery of service dogs. Consequently, ACADIA needs donation to works well. Thanks to its marketing approach and its communication, ACADIA has succeeded in gathering companies, foundations and donors award its cause. The public authorities are also starting to take an interest in our action. Our partners become sponsors of dogs by funding their education. ACADIA is studying the possibility of developing others projects so as to the association is self-financing (education center, animal mediation).

10. Team: what is the current composition of your team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?

The Board of Directors is made up of 7 people including the President, Solène Grivolat, who is the founder of the association and Théo's mother. The team also includes a diabetologist and a diabetology nurse who are referents for the scientific project. More over there are an American expert trainer, a referent veterinarian (...). About the employe team: there are a full time person in charge of the runnig the association, a civic service and 10 canine educators in service contract.

11. How do you plan to influence your field of work if you are a winner of this edition of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize?

Purina is a brand recognized in France for its development around animal welfare. So we could benefit from more visibility. In the future other forms of partnership could be envisaged with Purina as a sponsorship. We would be very happy if Purina become the sponsor of a service dog in 2020.

12. How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Recommended by others
  • Participated in previous Ashoka challenges
  • Email

13. Example: Please walk us through one or two concrete examples of how your solution will solve the problem you’re trying to address.

Diabetic Children and their family come to ACADIA for a 10-day internship before handing over the dog. We work together on the construction of their future life project with the dog (how to deal with the dog in the school environment? Tasks distributed for each member of the family: dog food, walks, brushing, games, etc…). The annual monitoring of families who got an medical ACADIA dog has shown initial results: - Roman, 9 years, diabetic for 4 years, reduced his insulin doses by 3. - Manon, 18 years, diabetic since 10 years, She had usually 1 hypoglycemic coma per year. That hasn't happened since she got the medical alert dog in 2018. - Hugo is accompanied by his dog in high school so as to check his blood sugar during his exams. Connected watches are made available to parents and child to alert and analyze their activity and blood sugar levels…. They show an increase in the child's daily physical activity as well as better sleep for the child and his or her parents.

14. Mutual Benefit: Explain how your project mutually benefits the pets involved – how is the pet not only used as tool?

The young patient and the dog look after each other. The child takes responsibility by learning to take care of a living being. The child takes responsibility by learning how to take care of the dog. During the selection of families and during the family training course, the ACADIA team insists on the needs of the dog. The medical alert dog is above all a family dog, using its innate sense of smell to assist its little master. The dog does not replace therapeutic treatment, they are complementary. The dog has the chance to share many activities with the family by having access to different public places. Dogs often come from shelters, it is also for them a second chance, a second life surrounded by people who love them.

15. Marketplace: Who else is addressing this problem in your environment? How does your proposed project differ from these other approaches?

In France, ACADIA is the one and only association educating medial warning dogs for diabetics. ACADIA is also the only French structure of assistance dogs that does not work with kennels but with abandoned dogs.

16. Tell us about how collaborations and partnerships would enhance the scalability and impact of your project.

ACADIA is associated with the National Confederation of Service Dogs (CANIDEA). This allows us to exchange with large associations such as guide dogs, or Handichien and get advices for the development of ACADIA. ACADIA wishes to spread the project on the territory with different subsidiaries. For this, we are looking for volunteers and professionals ready to join us. This would allow us to train more dogs per year and also to be closer to the beneficiaries who are located all over France, this would be really useful for the training, the annual follow-up. ACADIA is also looking for forms of sustainable financial partnership such as annual grants or percentages paid back on sales (e.g. micro-donation).

17. Awards & Recognitions: What awards or recognitions, if any, has the project received so far?

ACADIA has received numerous awards to encourage its development: Social and Solidarity Economy Prize (CRESS), solidarity initiative award (Banque Populaire), Trophies for companies and high school students (Valence Romans Agglomeration), etc…

19. Financial Sustainability (OPTIONAL): Please tell us more about how you plan to fund and scale your project, include an attached document with your detailed business plan or other equivalent information. (This information will NOT be shared with your fellow contestant, it will only be visible to you and internal Prize reviewers).

ACADIA is accompanied by an accounting firm to work on its financial viability and business model. ACADIA wishes to increase its self-financing capacity through the development of new areas of activity (animal mediation sessions and dog education centre). The association also wishes to raise funds from public services and in particular from the Ministry of Health.

Evaluation results

1 evaluation so far

1. OVERALL Evaluation

Yes, absolutely! - 0%

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2. Is this entry INNOVATIVE?

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3. Does this entry have SOCIAL IMPACT?

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4. Does this entry have potential to GROW & demonstrate LEADERSHIP?

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5. Is this entry VIABLE?

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Yes, absolutely! - 0%

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7. FEEDBACK – Highlights

INNOVATION: You have a great understanding of the problem, have researched existing solutions, and have developed unique, thoughtful new solutions or used an old model in a new way - 100%

IMPACT: You use specific numbers and evidence to describe what your project has achieved so far (or plan to achieve in the future) and you have a plan for measuring impact - 0%

GROWTH & LEADERSHIP POTENTIAL: You have a thoughtful plan for growth and your founding team has a strong combination of leadership and knowledge-based skills - 100%

VIABIBLITY: You have given a great deal of thought to not just the idea itself but how to make it work from a financial perspective in the present and future - 0%

CHANGEMAKING ACTIVATION: You value thinking around how to activate changemakers and empower them to innovate through your product or programming - 0%

POTENTIAL TO CREATE SHARED VALUE: You have a clearly defined plan on how to maximize shared value across multiple sectors and stakeholders - 100%

WRITING STYLE: Your writing style is concise, descriptive, clear, and specific - 0%

Other option - 0%

8. FEEDBACK - Areas for Improvement

INNOVATION: Be more specific in your description of the research you have done into the past solutions to this problem and focus on how your solution is unique and innovative - 0%

IMPACT: Provide specific instances of your social impact and how you plan to measure impact – it may be helpful to describe the beneficiaries, products and programming, and provide evidence of (or plan for) how to measure impact - 100%

GROWTH & LEADERSHIP POTENTIAL: Your plan for growing the organization can benefit from more specifics. How can you round out the various skills of your current leadership team to make the project a long-term success? - 0%

VIABILITY: Make sure you have provided descriptive information about your financial sustainability plan. Where do the funds come from now and do you have a concrete plan for future sustainability? - 0%

POTENTIAL TO CREATE SHARED VALUE: Your plan can benefit from more thought on how to create value for all stakeholders, not just immediate beneficiaries - 0%

WRITING STYLE: Try to be more concise, descriptive, clear, and specific. Avoid jargon - 0%

Nothing – I thought everything was great! - 0%

Other option - 100%


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Photo of Corinne Colmel

Très utile aux enfants avec un diabète ��

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