Posted on Jun 03, 2016
By Ellie Laks, Founder of The Gentle Barn
Jay and I flew to Tennessee this week to host our very last groups of foster children for the year, and to prepare for our one year anniversary in Knoxville.
To get the animals at this new Gentle Barn used to working with children, and to train our staff we hosted 3 groups of foster kids this year. The groups were small as the issues and abuse these kids have had were tremendous. We hosted a group of 2 and 3 year olds, a group of 8-11 year olds, and a group of teens. Through the stories and interactions with our animals, who have the same histories of abuse and neglect as the kids, the children learned kindness, compassion, confidence, and found themselves in the barnyard.
We always end the year with drum circles for the kids. Each child got to have their own turn creating signature rhythms and playing together as a group. They got to find their voice and practice confidence. The drum circle becomes a metaphor for life: how the kids show up for the drumming is usually how they are going to show up for life. Some of the kids were shy and played softly. Those kids were encouraged to find their strength and confidence. Some kids played too ruff and hard. Those kids were encouraged to play softly and with more control. And some kids had trouble following rules and playing with the group. Those kids were shown how to pay attention to the facilitator and play as instructed.
The first drum sound we ever hear is our heart beat. We culminated each group by playing drums together and becoming one sound, one beat. No matter where the kids go from here; if they come back to our program next year, or move on to something else, our hearts will beat as one forever more. They will take the gentleness, the cow hugs, the soft nuzzle of the horses, the tummy rubs, and the love of The Gentle Barn with them to hold them in sad times and encourage them to find their own happily ever afters.
Like our animals, the children found sanctuary at The Gentle Barn this year. They found their voice, they released some anger, they received unconditional love, and they grew up just a little. They have all come so far and we are so proud of them and grateful to have known them.
Thank you for supporting us so we can continue to help animals and children!
The Gentle Barn