Board of Directors

Board Chair John Playford

What a wonderful opportunity it is to be part of the Sweet Charity organization. With my role as Principal of one of Simcoe County District School Board’s secondary schools and my previous role as Special Education Teacher, I have had the opportunity to be involved with service dogs within the schools. Presently my school has five CAP canines. With the growing need for students to feel safe in schools, my school has adopted a wellness approach that involves physical wellness, emotional wellness, spiritual wellness, and mental wellness. Our Wellness Dogs play a huge part in achieving that goal. I believe it is the role of education to ensure students are afforded the best opportunity for success, not only academically but also personally. The Wellness Dogs help students who are feeling anxious, with medical needs such as diabetes, and those coping with loss or other emotional trauma. Equally important is the positive effect they have on staff wellbeing. I am looking forward to being a member of the board and can see great things on the horizon.

Director of Finance Savanna Hargreaves CPA CMA

Savanna received her professional accounting designation in 2010 from the Certified Management Accountants of Ontario, which is now part of a unified accounting body - Chartered Professional Accountants. She currently works at Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB) as a Financial Analyst taking on the lead role of providing expertise in regards to the boards capital spending and tangible capital assets. Savanna is passionate about health and wellness and making a positive difference in her community and network. Currently, she volunteers for the SCDSB Health & Wellness committee and has previously been a Health & Wellness Champion. She has had the pleasure of being an accounting tutor as well as helping to create and facilitate learning and development sessions for the financial and actuarial community within the Canadian Division of Manulife; all aligning with her values of improving the well-being of others. She is now committed to using her skills and experience in working with Sweet Charity Medical Assistance Dogs. Improving the lives of families with children with diabetes from both a lifesaving and mental health standpoint is something she feels very strongly about and looks forward to helping the charity grow and achieve its vision.

Ellen Aird Bateman Psychotherapy Children Adolescents Adults

As lifetime animal lover, I have been so fortunate to share the company of many dear pet family members over the years. Twelve years ago, my husband and our two boys were able to welcome our dog, Cedar into our family. As a puppy, and through our veterinarian, we were linked up with Top Dog K9 Services and Kathy Eyers and their team of exceptional people ! After lots of puppy training and years of connection with Top Dog, I came to learn about Sweet Charity and the Assistance Dogs Program. I have been invited to to bring my knowledge and experience as a Psychotherapist to the Board of Directors. The aim is that I would provide consolation in the areas child/ adolescent emotional and psychological development. This will be both for particular young people and their families adopting an Assistance Dog and in the broader school and community settings. I am thrilled to be among such inspirational innovators contributing to the expansion of this important initiative!

Sarah Johnston

Having been a diabetic for 14 years and comfortable in my career choice as “Patient Care Assistant” I was ready to look for a new challenge. Being a huge fan of dogs and owning 2, I decided to look for ways that I could do something useful by perhaps combining both my diabetes knowledge and dogs. In 2018 I joined The Sweet Charity organization and I’m looking forward to my future with them.

Social Media Liaison - Kelly Cox

Since childhood, I have been extremely fortunate to have dogs in my life as valuable members of my family. I first became aware of Sweet Charity as a Vice Principal in an elementary school in Simcoe County District School Board. At the time, we had a staff team that were willing and excited to learn of the Sweet Charity Canine Ambassador Program (CAP), and so my journey of welcoming dogs into our school system began. We trained four dogs that same year, and each of the dogs became extremely important members of our staff – beloved by staff, students and the school community. As the dogs came to school with their handlers daily, I immediately noticed the positive impact each CAP dog had on our students, parents and the school environment on a daily basis. I like to call this ‘Dog Magic’. Our CAP teams brought an immeasurable amount of love, joy, smiles, strength and compassion to our kids daily. Our school environment completely changed for the positive, and at that point I started to become more involved with Sweet Charity. Completely impressed with the CAP program, I joined the Board of Directors as the Social Media liaison in 2017. Our team is growing with each session that graduates a new team of CAP dogs. We are so fortunate to be on the cutting edge of mental health and wellness in Simcoe County, with Simcoe County District School Board supporting the CAP program and all our CAP teams. Simply stated: Canine Ambassadors just make sense in schools. This is just the beginning! Ours dogs have so much more to give, as the program continues to expand. Contact me at kelly@sweetcharityasssitancedogs.com if you have any questions about the programs we offer and be sure to visit our Sweet Charity Facebook page, or tag us @SweetCharityDog (twitter) and sweetcharitydog on Instagram, if you have photos or stories to share.