The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states, “Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) have a tremendous impact on future violence victimization and perpetration, and lifelong health and opportunity.” Studies are revealing more and more each day how adverse childhood experiences negatively affect the physiological development of children. These studies further show how at risk, unhealthy behaviors are a direct result of a child being exposed to multiple adverse or traumatic experiences.
Last year, in Collier County, FL, over 1,500 youth were documented for having at risk behaviors and/or being involved in criminal activities. This does not include the hundreds that go unrecorded. For every youth struggling with their behaviors, we usually do not have to search very hard to find the backstory behind why they are struggling. That being said it is important to remember to never make assumptions, regardless of what we see or hear, because it is also not difficult to find adults, from seemingly amazing families and apparently healthy upbringings, who have spent most of their lives determined to hide the backstory from where their childhood struggles and behavioral issues began.
The founder of The Mustard Seed Ranch of Florida spent several months in the hospital with her ten-year old son as he battled to survive and overcome a childhood illness. While in the hospital, her heart broke as she watch the children who were fighting through a multitude of medical conditions. She struggled with the realization that none of these children had done anything to bring these circumstances on themselves. When her son was able to return home for the remainder of his treatments, Bonnie returned to her work as a law enforcement officer assigned to an elementary school. Where she faced story after story of children facing emotional, sexual, physical and psychological traumas. These children, like the children facing medical traumas, did not asked for the situations they were facing and they themselves had no control over whether or not the situation would end and/or what they will have to continue to endure.
As a nation, we invest billions of dollars every year into the health care and support of children that are facing medical traumas. A child suffering a traumatic physical injury has a multitude of treatment and care resources; they are not told to get up and figure out a way to live with whatever injuries received. Children who have been exposed to multiple adverse childhood experiences such as abuse (emotional, physical & sexual), household challenges (witnessing violence, substance abuse, mental illness, parent separation or divorce, or an incarcerated family member), neglect (emotional or physical), also suffer traumatic injury. These circumstances have given them significant physiological injuries. Moreover, those injuries may not stop with that child. It will continue to infect each generation until someone helps them become aware of the challenges they are facing and they are able to find the tools and determination to overcome them.
In an effort to affect the cycles of adversity, victimization, violence, crime and suicide in our community, we have developed an after school and Saturday program geared towards youth that are displaying at risk behaviors.
Taking from the proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” The Mustard Seed Ranch of Florida will work to foster positive mentoring relationships with youth that are in need of support. In addition to an ongoing support system, through the animal interactions, the innovative environment of the ranch, team-building activities, brain basics curriculum and a self-sufficient farm we will work to fill the lives of these youth with positive experiences and important life skills. The purpose of each interaction will be to encourage the development of a healthy self-esteem, self-respect and decision-making tools.
The Mustard Seed Ranch of Florida in partnership with Grizzly Ranch and FL Black Bear Rescue believe every heart holds potential; help us to unlock the potential in a child's heart today.
is to empower youth to develop character, social awareness and leadership qualities. Using a combination of project-based mentoring, animal interactions and research-based programming, we equip youth to lead healthy and fulfilling lives, find their purpose and strive to be successful members of their community.
... is to empower and restore lives by providing a safe environment, which equips individuals with the tools and resources needed to overcome trauma and break the cycles of adversity. Studies show that speaking in one-on-one or even group therapy session is not the most effective form of expression. Animal-based, activity-based and mindful cognitive restorative interactions not only allow individuals to be uninhibited in their communications, but it naturally enhances the brain's ability to produce healing chemicals as well. The Mustard Seed Ranch of Florida will provide individuals the opportunity to learn the basics of what is needed to maintain a self-sufficient farm and ranch, as well as grooming, bonding with and having responsibilities over animals. This interaction helps to provide them with a general sense of well-being while improving their self-esteem and self-confidence. These consistent interactions will develop trust, respect, responsibility, perseverance and love towards the animals. This promotes a shift toward a more positive attitude, which improves family and social integration.
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