Sunday, January 4, 2009

Animals Heal Abused Children

In 1999, Ellie Laks realized a dream that she had nurtured since childhood. During her formative years, Laks had faced numerous challenges of not feeling understood and not fitting in with other children. But in dealing with those challenges she found that animals were always soothing and helped to heal her soul. So she decided to find a way to help other troubled children. She majored in special education and psychology, and with that educational foundation and her special love of animals, Laks founded The Gentle Barn.

The Gentle Barn was started on a half-acre property in Tarzana, California, in the middle of the San Fernando Valley. The concept was simple: bringing together troubled children and abused animals and letting them interact to heal each other.

By helping animals learn to trust and depend on people again, kids also learn to trust, along with developing empathy, kindness, forgiveness, courage, and leadership skills. The healing that results is nothing short of a miracle. "I think ‘The Gentle Barn’ just incorporates everything that we do," Laks said. "We love to focus on that word because that's what we're trying to teach to the kids, is gentleness."

Visit The Gentle Barn website.


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