Gentle Barn Teaches Kids Compassion to Animals
Through the help of loving animals that have endured abuse, suffering and abandonment, The Gentle Barn is showing kids empathy in action. The organization’s hard work and dedication to both the animals and children is helping to create a kinder future for us all.
With so much seeming chaos in the world at large, from the overwhelming presence of technology and violence to environmental woes like drought, deforestation and species extinction, instilling a connection with nature, animals and our planet is becoming more and more important. The Gentle Barn is an organization that’s committed to teaching that kindness and compassion toward animals and toward each other is as vital to our health and wellbeing as it is to our future. Anatole France remarked, “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” Here’s a glimpse into the soul-awakening programs available at The Gentle Barn.
The cycle of abuse is that those who have been abused often become abusers. The Gentle Barn’s work with at-risk youth matters because it’s breaking that cycle by allowing children who have suffered abuse, neglect and trauma to become protectors, rather than abusers. Most of the animals at the Barn also have a similar history of abandonment and neglect. This common bond between the kids and animals, plus the animals’ warm acceptance of the children allows this program to be so beneficial for youth who have suffered similar circumstances. They can relate to the stories of the animals, and as they see that the animals are safe and cared for, they begin to share in a safe and secure environment about their own past. Through an unspoken compassion and connection, the children both release pain from their own traumatic experiences and develop empathy for others.
The Gentle Barn is often the first experience people with special-needs have of caring for another being. With many people who have special needs, including those afflicted with autism or those with other developmental delays, there can be a lot of isolation. Many of these disorders can keep them locked up inside themselves and walled off from developing interpersonal connections. The animals of The Gentle Barn are excellent at knocking down these barriers naturally. The friendly nature and warm acceptance of the animals can be just what’s needed for people with special needs, often helping the children develop better social skills and helping them be more interactive. Allowing them to pet, brush and feed the animals gives them pride in being able to take care of another living being.
Educational and School Groups
Providing daily lessons in empathy through programs that educate school kids on how and why animals behave in certain ways and why animals are more similar to people than they are different, The Gentle Barn is doing amazing work at sowing seeds that will one day grow into kindness that these kids will bring out into the greater world. By putting people and animals on an even playing field, the educational programs are showing why it is so important that we take care of animals and nature. Changing the kids’ perspectives through hands-on interaction with the animals helps to bridge the gap that exists today and allows the kids to understand that we are really all connected.
Their gentle work continues because, “Children trained to extend justice, kindness and mercy to animals, become more kind, just and considerate in their relations to each other.”
Since the animals of The Gentle Barn have so much value to offer to all kids, here’s your chance to help them continue doing what they do best. Check out each animal’s story and choose an animal to sponsor for a month. (If you find it too hard to pick just one, go ahead and sponsor more!) Pick up swag or donate a little extra cash to fund the valuable programs. Get in on all the animal action by following along on social media or subscribing to their YouTube channel. If you’re local to any of their locations (Santa Clarita, CA, Nashville, TN or Dittmer, MO), schedule a visit in person pronto!