Sunday, June 8, 2014

JACOB'S FUND :: McKenna Farms Mission Experience, Late Spring 2014 part 1

TRTP volunteer, Rhonda, greeting one of the therapy horses

(left to right: Bernie, Rhonda, Wilma, Christian, Judy, Sonya, Glenna, Jim)
We’ve come back to McKenna Farms for another amazing mission experience. Back to visit the children and families we support, back to the gentle horses who lend their bodies willingly and gracefully, encouraging the children on top with their easy, repetitive movements, stimulating the small bodies to copy the sweet, free motion. Back to the quiet experts, the staff and therapists who make McKenna Farms a special, loving place for these children.  

Landon, his therapist and the horse-handler at the entrance 
to the Jacob Beachy Sensory Trail
This time we’re working along the Jacob Beachy Sensory Trail (the trail), built in honor and memory of our own Jacob, for whom Jacob’s Fund is named. Nestled in the woodlands surrounding the farm, the trail leads through forest and along a stream, circling back to the sensory stations. Each year, sun and rain weather and wear the stations along the trail, and this winter’s polar vortex has taken its toll.

As we plan our work, we observe Landon on horseback placing colorful beanbag frogs into the openings of the shape sorter, stuffing a frog in a cutout of a red circle, matching the color and shape called out by his therapist. For him, this is fun. The sensory stations appeal to his senses of touch, vision, hearing, and smell with fuzzy and smooth-leaved plants; colorful flowers, plants, shapes and tubes; large melodic chimes; and fragrant herbs. 

However, the affect of the activity reaches much deeper than fun – it is serious developmental science. Children like Landon who experience developmental delays often have difficulty processing sensory input, our basic interactions with the world. These are the building blocks of all activity, allowing them to negotiate the world in which they live. The sensory stations play a critical role in occupational therapy.

We are so happy to work on this trail. It is so meaningful to us and to all of the young people who use it daily as part of their therapy.

And now the work begins.

McKenna Farm's new barn entrance

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