MILTON — Capstone Adaptive Learning and Therapy Centers is helping their students and pets with two grant-awarded programs.

Capstone provides care programs for persons with developmental disabilities in Northwest Florida.  

Recently Capstone received $25,000 and $107,700 grants from the nonprofits Sunday’s Child and Impact 100 respectively. Capstone is using these funds to open a pet retail store called “Pet Place” in Milton as well as starting a “Pet Barkery” program in Pensacola.

The Pet Barkery—a pet food bakery—will help students with developmental disabilities develop hands-on skills needed to enter the workforce, according to Trudy O’Brien, assistant to the president of Capstone. The grant will fund equipment and training materials, according to O’Brien. Students will bake healthy treats for animals that can be sold at local farmers markets, festivals, business and the new Pet Place supply store in Milton.

“We are finding that several students love baking.” O’Brien said. “Our goal for these individuals is for them to become as independent as possible.”

Pet Place will sell pet supplies, toys and healthy homemade animal treats. O’Brien said that store will also be an on-the-job training program for the students so they can gain skills for the workforce in retail.  

“We want to give them the confidence to enter our support employment service,” she said.

O’Brien said that while the store will not sell pets, occasionally it will host pet adoptions and will provide information on spaying and neutering.

So why is Capstone using these grant funds for programs focusing on animals? O’Brien said that it’s because everyone loves animals.  

Mark Harrison, a student with Capstone who will be working at Pet Place said he was excited about having the opportunity to work in the pet store.

“I enjoy setting up the displays in the pet store, learning about working with customers, giving change, and ordering more supplies,” he said. “[I am] also looking forward to working in the store and hosting pet adoptions.”

To learn more about the program, visit www.CapstoneLearning.org.