Equine therapy camp helps kids, teens grieve in NKY

Equine therapy camp helps kids, teens grieve in NKY
Published: Aug. 5, 2022 at 4:35 PM EDT
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VERONA, Ky. (WXIX) - A unique camp in Northern Kentucky just wrapped up its second session this summer helping kids deal with the loss of a loved one.

Equine therapy is becoming more popular not only for dealing with grief but for certain illness or behavior issues.

It’s a win-win for the horse, who gets extra attention, and for the person in need of help going through a tough time.

At New Day Ranch in Verona, kids ages 8 to 18 participated in equine grief camp this week. They are using the horses to help them grieve the loss of a loved one.

New Day Ranch Founder and CEO Beth Long says horses can be used to help people heal from all sorts of problems.

“By working with the horses and all of the different activities, they’re all centered around being aware of what you’re feeling, being ok with what you’re feeling,” Long continues, “Talking about your loved one, sharing thoughts and memories as well as learning some coping skills when they are having sad days.”

The camp is a partnership with St. Elizabeth Healthcare’s Hospice program.

“The kids come in and a lot of times they’re shy,” explains Hospice and Palliative Care Representative Natalie Ciulla. “They’ve lost a loved one they care a lot about. Maybe they don’t know a lot about death, maybe they do know a lot about death. A lot of these kids have experienced a range of losses. So, it’s amazing to see the kids come in and open up, talk about their loved ones, be able to memorialize their loved ones and have a safe place to do that.”

Not only do the kids get to interact with the horses, they also go hiking, fishing and even learn archery.

The goal is by the end of the week, these campers have learned better ways to handle their feelings, stress and sadness related to their grief.

It is also important to honor that loved one through memories.

“By the end of the week they have shared wonderful stories about their loved ones,” explains Long, “They’ve made a new friend that may have had a similar situation. We hear comments like, ‘I never knew there were other kids that had lost someone.’”

This summer there were two sessions but New Day Ranch hopes to add a third next year.

The program is at no cost to the camper, thanks to donations.

If you would like to help either program you can find a link to Hospice here and New Day Ranch here.

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