Local program takes different approach on therapy, stresses the importance of a good environment

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A local program is taking a different approach on therapy by taking kids away from institutions and placing them outdoors to learn life skills and decompress.

“We do just about anything you can do outdoors. We do forestry management out there, maintenance on our lake, repair the barns, work on the house,” said Farm Manager Mark Britton.

The Children’s Home Farm stretches 76 acres and the goal is to give kids a place to share their thoughts all while they learn skills needed to enter the workforce.

Farm Manager, Mark Britton teaches about plants

“Many of our young people have gone through extreme trauma, especially for people that have not developed the full frontal lobe development, they can actually be retraumatized, research’s showing now through talk therapy,” said Kelly.

Ron Kelly has worked with the Children’s Home in Peoria for more than 30 years as a therapist. He said this holistic approach gets more kids to open up about their trauma.

“I’ve had young people talk about things they normally wouldn’t talk about,” said Kelly.

The major factor, putting people in a comfortable environment and managing their stress levels. Kelly believes kids at times can be over therapized and institutionalized, thus making them less prone to opening up.

“Getting them out of an office and getting them away from technology a little bit and being in an environment where there is fresh air, there’s exercise. Those things, mind, body, soul all of those things go together in terms of working with mental health issues,” said Kelly.

Kids in the program learned how to grow and take care of all the flowers in the greenhouse, Spring 2021

On average 75 kids come to the farm each season-kids like Damien Thomas.

“It’s really therapeutic and works me out and it helps with my anger,” said Thomas.

The farm manager Mark Britton said it’s an old approach to therapy, but in a new setting.

“This is a lot of fun. It’s really neat to be involved in these kids lives and it’s fantastic to see the transformation,” said Britton.

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