Ranch staff and donors help children heal in many ways. Here are the top five.
1. Classroom Instruction
When kids at the Ranch start to succeed in the classroom, especially after years of failure, it's a big win. Many have come to see school as a waste of time or, worse, proof they don't have any value. Our goal is to help every child achieve early wins in the classroom, understand how they learn best, and reach their full potential.
Shawn is one example. After years of struggling in school, he finally caught his stride at the Ranch's Dakota Memorial School. "I did a whole year of geography in one semester," he says. "The teacher gave me extra work to take back to the cottage and finish at night. I'm doing really well with that."
2. Horse Therapy
Understanding that God created not only people, but other wonderful creatures, gives our kids a fuller understanding of the breadth of God's beautiful plan for this world. Time spent at the stables with our horses helps kids learn trust, confidence, and responsibility.
One of our residents, Anna, was at the barn one day, brushing "her" horse. The horse was standing quietly, just loving the attention. Anna was talking quietly to her horse and brushing him from nose to tail. One of the Ranch staff asked her what she liked best about her horse. She said, "I like his breathing. It is calm and helps me be calm. My brain slows down. And, he listens. Whatever I tell him, he just listens."
3. Therapy and Counseling
At the Ranch, it all begins with answers. But the question isn't, What's wrong with you? It's, What happened to you? Once we understand that, we can help kids move in the right direction to find healing and success in life.
One of our girls, Madison, tells us: "Counseling at the Ranch has helped a lot. It taught me how to be more social and talk out my feelings, so I don't bundle everything inside. I've gotten better with my anger. The Ranch taught me how to control it."
4. Spiritual Life Development
The Ranch's mission is to help at-risk children and their families succeed in Christ. That means we're committed to the kids' spiritual development. Through chapel, Bible study, and spiritual mentoring, we help kids learn about the heavenly Father who loves them more than they can ever imagine.
When Isaac came to us, he'd been in 17 -- yes, 17! -- foster and facility placements. He was angry and trusted no one. But who could blame him? Every adult in his life had let him down. A local pastor and member of our Ranch team invited Isaac to his church's youth group. For the first time, Isaac believed life had something better for him. Today, Isaac proves every day that his faith is always his strongest asset.
5. Independent Living
As they complete treatment and prepare to leave the Ranch, some of our young people don't have all of the support they need to succeed. That means independent living is becoming an even greater focus for us.
As she looks forward to leaving the Ranch, 17-year-old Lindsay said she likes the increased independence and trust we show her when she demonstrates she is responsible. "Because I'm 17," she says, "I get to walk to my own appointments and go off campus by myself. I can even work and get paid for it, just like I was at a regular job."