|Newsroom - What’s New at RFK|
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.
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.
Director of Special Projects
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