Children - At-Risk Youth

Click here to sponsor a group of at-risk kids.

 Since children naturally identify with animals, we can use interactions with animals to teach children how to behave towards other people.  Often when children are abused, they turn their hurt around to abuse others. By teaching empathy and uniting kids with all life, our At-Risk Youth program helps turn these kids from the inner city into protectors instead of abusers.

We believe that our animals are particularly helpful with these children. First, the animals at The Gentle Barn all have histories of abuse, neglect, abandonment or worse.  Often the children share similar pasts, and hearing the stories of the animals helps them see that change is possible. Second, as they see that the animals are safe here with us, the children begin to open up, as they too feel safe. Finally, we believe that animals, with their unconditional love and non-judgmental attitude, can often reach kids more deeply and effectively than people can. As the children learn to love the animals, they simultaneously learn to love a part of themselves. As they learn to understand the animals, they learn to understand a part of themselves.

Identifying with the animals at The Gentle Barn helps the children feel safe. When we explore how our abused animals have learned to forgive and overcome their pasts, the animals become role models helping the children reach their goals of surpassing their pain and reaching for their bright futures.

  

"The instant connection with the animals that is made each and every time we bring our boys there is almost impossible to describe without using words like "extraordinary," and "uplifting." There is more to the connection than just curiosity on both the boy's and animals' parts. There is an understanding of what it means to have a second chance. Whether you happen to walk on 2 feet, 4 hooves, or merely just enjoy the sensation of watching as two completely different creatures, human and animal, learn something that books can't teach." -Pacific Lodge Boys' Home

Please contact us for more information.