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Animal-Assisted Therapy

The Martha Stewart Show, Episode 5128

Keeping animals has many benefits: They can lower our blood pressure, provide companionship, and offer a welcome greeting when we return home in the evenings. But at the Green Chimneys School in Brewster, New York, they do much more.

A special-education school and farm in one, Green Chimneys is a leader in animal-assisted therapy for children with emotional, behavioral, social, and learning problems. The school's nearly 200 students learn to care for nature and animals from a comprehensive staff of counselors, teachers, psychiatrists, occupational therapists, and more.

Dr. Samuel Ross founded the school in 1947, when he was just 18 years old. With a gift of $38,000 from his father, he bought a 75-acre farm where he lives and runs this program.

"When children build relationships with animals, they find out that they're not a failure. They can be a success," says Dr. Ross. "And the more they take care of the animals, the more the animals will show them how important they are in the animals' lives. And I think that what this does, it says to the child, 'If I can [build a relationship] with animals, I can do it with people.'"

Resources
For more information about the Green Chimneys School, visit greenchimneys.org.

Comments (6)

  • 29 Apr, 2010

    As a proud parent of one of the residential students at this school,this program is awe inspiring and needed, its remarkable how my son comes home and can do nothing but speak volumes about his two hours in the barn, working with horses or his time at the market. It has lifted his self esteem beyond words and i can not say enough about the school, beyond that more are needed to help with children of disabilities to give them the life skills for their future endeavors.

  • 29 Apr, 2010

    As a proud parent of one of the residential students at this school,this program is awe inspiring and needed, its remarkable how my son comes home and can do nothing but speak volumes about his two hours in the barn, working with horses or his time at the market. It has lifted his self esteem beyond words and i can not say enough about the school, beyond that more are needed to help with children of disabilities to give them the life skills for their future endeavors.

  • 29 Apr, 2010

    As a proud parent of one of the residential students at this school,this program is awe inspiring and needed, its remarkable how my son comes home and can do nothing but speak volumes about his two hours in the barn, working with horses or his time at the market. It has lifted his self esteem beyond words and i can not say enough about the school, beyond that more are needed to help with children of disabilities to give them the life skills for their future endeavors.

  • 29 Apr, 2010

    As a proud parent of one of the residential students at this school,this program is awe inspiring and needed, its remarkable how my son comes home and can do nothing but speak volumes about his two hours in the barn, working with horses or his time at the market. It has lifted his self esteem beyond words and i can not say enough about the school, beyond that more are needed to help with children of disabilities to give them the life skills for their future endeavors.

  • 29 Apr, 2010

    As a proud parent of one of the residential students at this school,this program is awe inspiring and needed, its remarkable how my son comes home and can do nothing but speak volumes about his two hours in the barn, working with horses or his time at the market. It has lifted his self esteem beyond words and i can not say enough about the school, beyond that more are needed to help with children of disabilities to give them the life skills for their future endeavors.

  • 29 Apr, 2010

    Wow! I first found Green Chimneys when I attended a Humane Education Conference there a year or so ago. I never left. They've committed to caring for their animals (therapy animals and injured wildlife