Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Last-Minute Holiday Gift with a Lot of Heart

Posted By on Tue, Dec 22, 2015 at 4:00 AM

click to enlarge green_chimneys.jpg

Some of their teachers moo.

Some of their therapists cluck.

And some of their best friends say nothing at all.

Green Chimneys, a special education school and residential treatment center in Putnam County, New York celebrates a nearly 70-year tradition of helping children and animals. Through innovative animal-assisted therapies and educational activities, children who are struggling with a variety of social and emotional challenges related to anxiety, depression, autism, ADHD and PTSD, to name a few, gain confidence and skills to last a lifetime. And for animals, many of whom are rehomed or rescued, find a loving home at Green Chimneys.

Year after year, animals at Green Chimneys play a vital role in the education and treatment of over 240 students from all over New York State. From weekly chores and lessons in animal care and wildlife rehabilitation to animal-assisted therapy, the animals, along with expert staff (teachers, clinicians, animal caretakers), help children better understand themselves and one another. Animals are unique in their ability to provide a mirror to a child’s actions in ways that are easily understood by the child and are honest, without judgment. This is especially important for students with special needs who often have difficulty relating to others, reading social cues and communicating.

Meet Paddy, a Jersey cow whose gentle nature enables the fragile children at Green Chimneys to groom and walk him. And students know well that wherever Paddy goes, miniature Jersey cow Bella is sure to follow. Paddy’s friendship with Bella is a great model for their students, especially with those who struggle with making connections of their own.

This holiday season, the nonprofit is raising funds to help provide food, veterinary care, shelter, and more for their 200+ farm animals and unreleasable wildlife – the very beings who offer so much to children with special needs. Paddy and others (a horse, llama, goat, a pair of camels and more) are available for sponsorship. Starting at $25, sponsorships can be purchased online and sent as a gift or directly to you. Each gift recipient receives a special card featuring a photograph and brief bio of the animal. For details: www.greenchimneys.org/sponsor

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