Meet the animals at HART sanctuary in Hawkswick offering therapy for youngsters (From Craven Herald)
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Meet the animals at HART sanctuary in Hawkswick offering therapy for youngsters
10:00am Tuesday 22nd October 2013 in News
Miniature donkeys in Littondale are proving to be therapeutic for children with special needs.
The HART sanctuary in Hawkswick was set up last year and aims to help children cope with difficult situations such as illness, disabilities and bereavement.
There are many animals at HART including alpacas, hens, pygmy goats and ducks, but the three Mediterranean mini-donkeys, Murphy, Martha and Milly, are the real stars due to their docile nature and their love of being handled, groomed and cuddled.
The sanctuary is run by Roger Staniland and Penny Crisfield. Penny said: “For a long time we’ve been very aware of the power of animals to help sick children and unhappy children.
“We had the opportunity of getting the mini-donkeys and realised how amazing they were with children and how therapeutic they were. It’s such a powerful experience.
“We’ve taken the donkeys to hospices, and it’s not just sick children who can benefit, it’s bereaved children, siblings of ill children. We’ve had an autistic child here recently and the power of animals working with children with autism is extraordinary.”
Recently the sanctuary had a visit from eight Beechcliffe School students with profound and multiple needs and severe learning difficulties.
“The children we had from the school were here for about three hours and that was an extraordinary experience,” said Penny. “We learnt such a lot and the animals were amazing with the children.”
Emily Pearson, the group’s class teacher, said: “We had the most amazing time and the students got so much out of the day. It is very rare that they can get to experience so much in one day and have the chance to be so near animals.
“All the students loved it so much, we could tell they had all had an amazing time as they were all worn out the next day.”
The organisation is currently funded by Penny and Roger but they are supported by local members of the community including Rich Paul, a local farmer who donated all the hay to them last winter.
They are currently looking at becoming a charity and there is no charge for groups with special needs.
The sanctuary welcomes pre-arranged visits from small groups of children, particularly those with special needs.
For more information or to book a visit, go to the website: http://www.hartminidonkeys.org.
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