SALIʼs Farm brings small groups of at-risk children (from White Rock, Surrey and Langley) to a farm in South Surrey one day per week for eight weeks. At the farm, the children are paired with trained volunteers and engage in care-taking activities with animals and horticultural activities in the childrenʼs garden. Some animal-care activities include: cleaning the paddocks, cleaning and refreshing water buckets, grooming the animals, giving the animals their medicine. Activities in the garden include: planting seeds, maintaining bird feeders, harvesting food to give to the animals, learning the connection between plants and healthy food. Activities are designed to meet each childʼs skill level and build on success. Our volunteers are trained to keep the children safe and to facilitate success in every activity. They model empathy, caring and non-violent problem solving.
Contact with animals is an ideal opportunity to convey respect, empathy, gentleness, and a humane regard for animals, which has been shown to generalize to humans. Since relationships with humans are more confusing and unpredictable, children at-risk are more available and open to animal relationships. They feel the unconditional acceptance from the animals and trust more readily. When these experiences are paired with a nurturing, trustworthy adult, the childʼs ability to heal and learn is enhanced.