As we count down the days until Giving Tuesday and Georgia Gives on 11/28, we will be sharing a story about a special horse and a special child each day to show you just how grateful we are for your support... and how life changing it is to them
Danny* was 12 when he arrived at Sunkissed Acres on a crisp November day, and so much was new for him as a child in Georgia's foster care system, but he was also experiencing life with animals for the first time. Sunkissed Acres is home to 30 or more horses at any given time, but also wonderful dogs, cats, chickens and ducks. It was very overwhelming for him at first and he was especially frightened of the dogs. With the help of our sweet, now departed Paris, Danny quickly learned to love the companionship and playfulness of the dogs, and was soon sneaking Paris into his room at bedtime!
The children who come here to the farm have challenging life circumstances, as well as intellectual, developmental, emotional or physical special needs. These children are often the last to find a loving environment, and it is made more difficult as they move from the early childhood into the teenage years. Danny, like all the others, had special needs that made navigating our challenging world difficult. But as his trust and caring for Paris grew, so did his interest in the other animals, including the horses.
Horses are highly intuitive creatures, and they instinctively sense our fears, our challenges, and our coping mechanisms. They understood Danny's fears and apprehension and slowly increased their interactions with him as his confidence grew. They also were quite protective of him when he would become forgetful, confused or under stress. Soon he was helping care for them, and enjoyed special closeness to several of the senior horses. As the months went on his interest continued to grow, so much so that he attended a horsemanship and riding camp before he left Sunkissed Acres at the end of the school year.
When Danny arrived he was fearful, aloof, and lacking in confidence, motivation and self-reliance. With the help of the horses and dogs he learned to be responsible for himself and for others, and how to give and earn respect. His confidence soared, and along with that...so did his self-esteem and his self-compassion. But it is also so wonderful for the horses, especially the seniors, to have hands on love, attention and care from the children. They thrive on it and for many it is the purpose they need to retain a positive emotional and physical quality of life.
The interactions with the horses that Danny experienced were made possible by the support of donors like you. This is holistic environment of healing and new beginnings for horses also contributes to the healing and new beginnings of the children. Each is so important to the other and we hope we can count on you to help us continue to make these life changing connections in 2018.
Thank you for reading Danny's story today, we will have another story for you tomorrow the 27th, and again on #GivingTuesday #GAGives day 11/28!
*The names, photos and personally identifying information for the children featured in our stores has been changed to protect their privacy as minors while in the custodial care of the State Of Georgia's foster care system.