As the great-granddaughter of North Dakota homesteaders, a winter blizzard is par for the course. I recall fond memories of snow days. Staying home from school and work with family, baking and cooking to add extra warmth to the house...unless the power goes out and you camp out in the living room. Oh, the fun!
But, I should have known better than to wish for a "good old-fashioned, shut-the-town-down storm." Now that we have had what feels like back-to-back blizzards, deathly windchills, and lots and lots of shoveling, I am less enamored with winter.
Winter weather that shuts things down is hard on the kids at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, too. They are very sensitive to changes in their schedules so while they may wish for a snow day, actually having one can create stress and anxiety for many of our kids. Because so many of our students live on campus, we have been able to stay open when other schools are closed or running late. But sometimes, like late last week, we close during extreme weather for the safety of our teachers and Day Students. (Interesting fact: some of our Day Students travel up to 70 miles each way to attend Dakota Memorial School!)
When extreme conditions do force Dakota Memorial School to close, our campus Wellness Coordinators arrange activities to keep the kids occupied—often asking for their input. The kids throw out ideas and must come to a consensus. What a learning experience! Then they spend the day doing activities in the gym, playing board games, watching a movie, working on art projects, and more. This helps to alleviate some of the dysregulations that come with unexpected schedule changes.
The weather is beyond our control and teaching our kids how to accept, respect and appreciate the opportunities that come from it is just one way we help our kids grow. They have lived through many circumstances beyond their control—which is where many of their struggles originate. A snow day gives us the opportunity to teach Ranch kids how to manage change and the unexpected—laying a foundation that will help them their entire life.
Thank you for your ongoing prayers and support. I pray you all are warm, safe and wrapped in God's grace.
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Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch is a Christian residential treatment and educational center for children and their families. We help the most troubled, complicated, and amazing kids by providing best-in-class psychiatric therapy and trauma-informed care, where we look kids in the eye, walk with them, and help them become their best selves.