HAMILTON, Ohio — A farm near Hamilton is trying to expand a non-profit program that provides therapy and guidance for children recovering from trauma.
H.O.P.E.-full Pastures Therapeutic Farm gives families and children a hands-on experience with different types of animals, to help them process and understand difficult experiences they or their family may have endured.
"What it's meant to my family is a lot," said Shaunda Barnett, whose son is in the program. "My son was having trouble in school."
She said it's the first therapy or program she's tried that has helped her son deal with his emotions and improved his mental health and behavior.
Christa Carrero said she started the farm to offer a faith-based resource for children and families going through challenges. Advocates working at the farm are trained in trauma-informed care and animal handling and the program uses both traditional lessons and animal-assisted therapy.
"After being a foster parent for over 12 years and working in orphan care for over 20, we just really saw this need," said Carrero. "And animals are so healing and so therapeutic."
The organization currently works with seven children and their families, but hopes to be able to reach up to 50 children in need soon. The group hosted an open house on Saturday to connect with interested families and offer the services they provide to those who may need it.
Carrero said they're also in search of people who are interested in helping with their cause. The farm doesn't charge for any of the therapy it provides, so a steady stream of donations and a strong team of volunteers are crucial to growing the organization's reach.
"So our volunteers are key," she said. "In order to be able to serve families and children, we have to have enough volunteers."
For families like Barnett's, the program and the animals have made all the difference.
"He's doing a 180 in school," said Barnett. "He's getting good grades. He got student of the month last month. I mean, it's a wonderful place to hang out as a kid when you're going through trauma."
Families interested in joining the program, or those who would like to sponsor a child's participation in the program, can visit the organization's website for more information.