Monkey helpers for the disabled

Helping Hands is an American charity that was first set up in 1979. The charity is primarily involved with the training of monkey helpers for the disabled. The mission statement of the charity states,
“Helping Hands” mission has been to provide assistance to people with the greatest needs: people who have become quadriplegic (paralyzed from the neck down) as a result of an accident, injury, or disease”.
The charity has grown from an innovative idea into a thriving national non-profit organization that offers independence and hope to individuals with severe disabilities.

Through placement projects with a family, the monkeys familiarize themselves with the patient’s activities and home life before they go on to the Monkey Helper center for patient specific training. After being trained they then go to live with the person they are to assist, with the suitable training to fit the specific needs of the disabled patient.
They are trained in tasks like opening fridges, replacing CDs and switching lights on and off. The monkey can also help a person to eat, scratch an itch, reposition a hand or a foot after a muscle spasm, assist with use of a telephone and computer, or handle a DVD. The monkey’s nimble fingers and natural curiosity mean they learn the tasks very quickly. They’re rewarded with treats of cream cheese and peanuts. Once trained, the monkeys become full time helper’s and companions for quadriplegic people, who cannot use their arms or legs.
When a Helping Hands monkey is introduced into a home, the recipient is able to gain a sense of freedom and independence. The accomplishment of seemingly simple tasks establishes a foundation for a trusting relationship between a monkey and their companion.

Craig Cook with his Capuchin Minnie. “Minnie, my Capuchin monkey, has made my life so much richer and fuller. My independence has been increased and I have the security of knowing that Minnie can assist with tasks that would be impossible for me without her.” Attention link opens in a new window

Donation details are available under the Information category.