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.'"

For more information about the Green Chimneys School, visit



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