Our innovative day program is not your typical recreational therapy day program!
Every detail of this program has been thoughtfully developed and is overseen by two graduate level social workers with certificates in animal-assisted social work. The social work profession emphasizes key ethical principles including the empowerment of vulnerable populations. All of our work is guided by these social work values and ethics including our emphasis on honoring the autonomy, dignity and worth of each participant in our program.
Our program activities are designed to promote functional life outcomes. These outcomes are achieved through highly-engaging animal-assisted and nature-based activities. Participants learn how to care for our farm animals, gardens and ranch. We weave in concepts of self-care, empowerment and resiliency throughout these incredibly fun and dynamic activities. We work towards client-identified goals and focus strongly on the concepts of self-sufficiency, problem-solving and social skills. We provide a space where the care receivers become the care providers and watch as our clients “Explore!” new interests, make new friends and learn vital life skills.
Program features include:
- Serving folks with special needs and varying ages, including individuals with developmental/intellectual disability, those with traumatic brain injuries, folks with mental health concerns, as well as their neurotypical peers in a farm-based setting
- Low sensory outdoor setting, with access to heated barn, 2,400 square feet of indoor program space including a full kitchen, sensory room, indoor animal room, expressive arts room and outdoor sensory trail
- Superior staff to participant ratio–we keep our program small so we can tailor activities to the unique self-identified interests, challenges and goals of each participant. Our staff to participant ratio is 1:5 which allows us to develop close therapeutic relationships and work collaboratively with each of our participants.
- Individual and group-based projects which develop task-analysis, problem solving, appropriate risk taking and teamwork.
- Highly participant-driven and tailored to the unique strengths, challenges, interests and goals of each participant.
- Activities build on existing strengths and promote cognitive and social-emotional development, as well as gross and fine motor skills and activities of daily life.
- Monthly homesteading classes which inspire creativity, ingenuity and life skills.
- Our work is highly collaborative with our participants–staff work along side the participants, engaging with them in animal-care, ranching and gardening activities which promote a sense of community, connection and equality.
- In addition to our animal-based activities, we provide expressive art activities, fun and educational field trips, as well as mindfulness and gratitude programming. All of these activities are designed to promote coping skills, empowerment and self-expression. Our goal is to increase the range of available coping strategies for our clients by allowing them to explore new adaptive behaviors in response to life stressors. Ultimately, our clients are the experts in their own life and will learn what works best for them. We provide new learning opportunities and support reflection on what strategies work best for them and why.
“Everyone who enters our Explore! Program becomes a vital, contributing member of our farm community. We truly are a barn family both on and off the farm. Our participants form new friendships, develop new coping skills, and build on their existing strengths. Everyone has something to offer out on the farm! I love watching our participants learn and grow together. I frequently find that they have expertise and skills that they can teach me as well. What I love most about the foundation of our program is the concept of empowering our clients. We provide a space where folks who are normally care receivers become care providers of our animals, garden and ranch. We really level the playing field and provide a sense of equality, connection and community that I haven’t witnessed anywhere else. Our folks can’t wait to get out of the van and get their day started out at the farm! Their excitement is palpable and contagious. There’s nothing better than hearing how something we learned on the farm has carried over into other areas of their life—whether it’s a specific behavioral skill or coping strategy like problem solving, learning how to move forward after a perceived failure, or learning how to let go of things beyond their control. Their commitment to achieving their self-determined goals through carefully designed farm-based activities really shows that our work is powerful, therapeutic and highly engaging and the outcomes extend far beyond the fences at the edge of our 40-acre ranch ” –Gianna Lishman, Program Manager, MSW, AASW
Hope Farms is a State approved service agency and accepts Medicaid waivers.