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To provide Animal Mediated Therapy to those who face both emotional and behavioral challenges and when possible, offer sanctuary to homeless animals until appropriate placements can be found.
Message from Farming Connection’s President, Gail Lilly
Having worked with children with behavioral and emotional challenges for most of my adult life, I continue to be amazed at what powerful teachers farm animals can be. While many of the kids who come to Farming Connections have a hard time trusting adults, they have no trouble trusting the genuineness of an animal’s behaviors. Animals live in the moment. They are excellent observers but they do not judge. If a kid wants to get close to an animal, breathing deeply, getting grounded or centered is the first step. Learning to be patient, to avoid quick, jerky movements and to stay in the here and now are musts. Being respectful of an animal’s personal space is also key. Kids quickly learn that they can’t trick an animal and then expect it to allow closeness. To work with a animal they must be genuine, communicate clearly and honestly. A child who learns how to earn an animal’s trust and respect is a young person who has learned many invaluable lessons about how to be a trustworthy person. Behavioral change can happen only in an environment that is perceived as safe. Animal behavior is what it is: nothing is contrived. This intrinsic nature of animals provides this elusive ingredient of emotional safety allowing our kids to make the changes needed to help them develop into more fulfilled, joyful and productive individuals.
Farming Connections has continued to grow and develop through input and support from interested individuals, companies, schools, families and local agencies. Young people who might have remained suspicious, angry and depressed are learning to trust themselves and those around them. The lessons learned at Farming Connections are ones that give young people the tools needed to become connected, contributing members of our society.
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