Hooves to Heart Program Helps Youth Heal
Written by Development
Monday, 20 August 2012 00:00
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September 13, 2012 – Many youth at the RFK Children’s Action Corps have experienced loss in their lives.  Loss stemming from the loss of a loved one or from being removed from their home and therefore their family and friends.

This summer, with the help from Hospice of Cape Cod, youth at our Cape Cod Adolescent Treatment Center found a way to cope with loss and trauma through the Hooves to Heart program at the Black Feather Horse Rescue Farm in Plymouth, MA. The mission of the Black Feather Horse Rescue Farm is to give abused and neglected animals, particularly horses, a loving and healing home, earn their trust, care for their needs and when possible find them new loving home. 

The youth were able to interact with many different breeds of horses from mini horses to thoroughbreds and Clydesdales.  At the sessions, each youth was assigned a mini-horse to take care of including grooming and walking them.  During one visit the youth had the opportunity to walk the horse out of the corral and down the road for some exercise.  sam wants lunch

One horse in particular, Arielle, grabbed the hearts of the youth and staff alike. Arielle, suffered from terrible abuse at her former stable - going blind in one eye from being hit with a tire iron and then loosing sight in the other eye from what is being called sympathy blindness.

Despite, the trauma Arielle suffered she is a kind and gentle horse.  Through working with Arielle and the other horses, the youth learned that the trauma they suffered was no fault of their own, similar to the youths’ own past trauma.  The boys and girls saw that the horses learned to trust their new owners and farm visitors, the same way they need to learn to trust adults and their peers again.   

The staff at the farm, as well as the counselors from Hospice of Cape Cod, talk to the kids about pack mentality and how horses are natural pack animals.  Horses work in groups to survive and when they lose their own pack or move they search for a new pack to join.  

The boys and girls strongly related to this lesson since they have encountered pack mentality themselves. When they came into the program or enter a new environment they want to fit in with the group.  Though the sessions at the farm they learn the keys points on how groups work well together and bring the lessons back to their program and school.  They also learn how to recognize when groups do not work well and are dangerous and what to do to get help.

At the end of each session, the farm staff hosted a closing art activity summarizing the experience of the day.  During one of the closing activities, the kids were asked to trace their hands on construction paper and cut them out.  On one side they wrote their feelings coming to the farm that day which included: nervous, scared and excited.  On the other side they were instructed to write what their feelings were leaving the farm.  It’s no surprise that the words written were of a different category and included: proud, happy, relaxed and sense of peace.  They walked away not only learning empathy but feeling connected to the horses they cared for.  Thanks to the Hospice of Cape Cod and the Black Feather Horse Rescue Farm for providing this experience to the boys and girls in our program.

For more information about the Black Feather Horse Rescue Farm click here.

Healing through Family Fun at the Annual BFAC Picnic, a program of RFK Children’s Action Corps
Written by Development
Monday, 20 August 2012 00:00
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August 20, 2012 – Bright Futures Adoption Center held its 12th Annual Summer Picnic on Sunday, August 12. The annual event brought together over 120 members of Bright Futures’ families, including families who have adopted children, families who are waiting to adopt, and birth families, for an afternoon of celebration, connections and relationship building.  It was a wonderful day that children, birth and adoptive parents had looked forward to all year long.  img_4418

Birth and adoptive families reconnect with one another relaxing on the beach, swimming, digging in the sand, boating, playing volleyball, watching the children play on the popular moon bounce, and sharing a meal to which they have all contributed, all while enjoying live music from the steel drums. 

While the picnic is full of fun activities for all ages (the youngest was born in July this year!) there is also a “bigger picture” to the yearly event and that is to provide an opportunity for the adoption triad to build and maintain meaningful relationships with one another. (Adoption triad is a term used to describe the three-sided relationship that exists in an adoption between birth parents, adoptive parents and the adopted child, each of which is interrelated and inter-dependent on the others.)

For many picnic goers, it was the first time they connected; grandparents meeting their birth grandchild for the first time full of emotion both tears and smiles and siblings meeting each other and playing together until it was time to go home.  This year also marked the largest participation in the birth parent support group that is just before the picnic begins.  It is extremely important commented Karen Cheyney, program director, “for the first time, many of our birth parents were open to accepting support from a group who shares their experience.  Birth parents and adoptive parents supporting each other as a community through this life-long journey is so important for everyone involved, especially the child.”

Even though next year’s picnic is now a year away, families left with plans to stay connected through birthdays and holidays as well as with a strong support system for many days and years to come.

Check back soon for photos!

RFK DDAP Being Replicated in Western MA
Written by Development
Wednesday, 25 July 2012 00:00
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July 25, 2012 – "The more closely one looks at the cost and deployment of our crime prevention efforts, the more apparent it becomes that we have put too much responsibility at the end of the line, rather than at the beginning.  Enforcement and correction can do only part of the job." - Robert F. Kennedy, 1963

On Tuesday July 17th a very important step was taken for the expansion of DDAP into Hamden County. Judge Swords from Springfield Court chaired a meeting attended by various court officials including juvenile probation, defense attorneys and our new DDAP staff. After sharing the purpose and goals of the program, everyone was excited about the opportunity for DDAP staff to provide the court a tool to divert selected youth from being sent to detention. 

We are excited about building partnerships with the judges, juvenile probation, the district attorneys office, defense attorneys and parents, with the shared common goal of diverting youth from juvenile detention. DDAP staff members have also started to reach out to various community agencies, resources and community leaders in the Springfield and Holyoke communities to explain the program and develop future partnerships to provide services to the DDAP youth. We anticipate to start working with youth in August.

“In Their Own Voices” Update
Written by Development
Tuesday, 24 July 2012 00:00
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July 24, 2012 – Recently, a volunteer donated time and talent to create a powerful video capturing some of our children's thoughts on their transformations at our programs. Watch the video on our YouTube channel and read more below about what the students are up to this summer!

  • Keith completed the Outdoor Workshop & Leadership Program (OWL) in June 2012. He also is learning to play the piano in school!
  • Jamai has obtained a school job where he is learning about responsibility and money management.
  • Kara has successfully completed her program and is back at home with her mother.
  • Jaxon has continued his job at Shaw's over the summer and is saving up to buy a car.  He has also been spending his time working out and playing basketball.  He'll be starting his senior year in high school this fall. 
  • Joe has been working as a groundskeeper at a local golf club.  In his spare time, he has been learning herding commands for his aunt's sheep dogs. Joe will be attending Cape Cod Community College in the fall.
EWT School Parents Applaud Program
Written by Development
Friday, 29 June 2012 00:00
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July 5, 2012 – The RFK Children’s Action Corps’ EWT School in Holyoke is back in session after a short summer break.  Last semesters parents were surveyed to find out what they think about the program and what impact it has had on their child.  Read excerpts from their testimonials below:

boy with female teaching guitar“Of all the placements my son has had over the years I have to say that EWT is the BEST one.  Whatever you have done over the past year has completely changed his attitude about school and he has gone from wanting nothing more than to quit, to now all he talks about is graduating and onto college. All I can say is thank you.”

“I am confident with the staff here at EWT and know they will do their best to help my child reach her full potential.”
“I am more hopeful that my child will be able to participate with her education.  The staff has been very accommodating and supportive in spite of my child’s difficulties attaining and maintaining attention to task.”

“This school has been a godsend.  My child has not been hospitalized once since attending this program.  She is receiving the support she needs while also being encouraged to participate to the best of her ability by capable understanding professionals.  Thank you.”


To learn more about the Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps EWT School, click here.

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