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Cooper Ridge Farm brings kids to farm, but not just for hayrides

Published: Oct. 13, 2020 at 6:29 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - During the fall, we’re all drawn to farms for the hayrides and pumpkin patches, but one small farm in Appling is attracting kids for a much different reason.

The goal is to help kids who need therapy but traditional methods just aren’t working.

It’s goats, cows, chickens, and yes -- even pigs like Charlie and Ellie-May here that are just some of the animals this farm in Appling are using to teach children very important life skills.

Cooper Ridge Farm is not just any farm.

“I think there’s something that feeds them and the beauty of it keeps them engaged a lot longer,” parent Jennifer McKinney said.

It’s a therapy farm. McKinney brings her two children with down syndrome here. The results, she says, are astonishing.

“The improvements they’ve made here have been unbelievable,” McKinney said. “Jude’s at a level we never thought he would be at and he continues to grow.”

For Jude and Matilda, traditional therapy wasn’t working. They were considered unteachable.

“When you put them into traditional therapy, it’s bright lights, there are other children in the room, they’re expected to sit down at a table,” McKinney said. “Once she figured out what they wanted she wouldn’t do it.”

That’s where Josephine and Justin came to the rescue.

“It’s a different opportunity for children to come out and forget about the issues they have, whether it be a disability or emotional issues, they forget about it all and put it aside and they’re able to focus on themselves and connecting with an animal,” Josephine Truglio-Fuller said.

Activities like pigs and a blanket, chicken chatter and even walking a goat focus on speaking, balance, and basic motor skills.

“It helps them build self-confidence, self-esteem, all of the different life skills that we look to instill on these children so it’s a really unique program,” Truglio-Fuller said.

The couple says this wasn’t their plan.

“We didn’t have the intentions of building a non-profit,” Truglio-Fuller said. “But it kind of fell into place and it means everything to be able to provide this for the community.”

McKinney says she’s happy there’s people who accept her kids for who they are.

“I have a whole lot more hope for them when I see people who rejoice in them as they are as prodcutive members of society,” McKinney said. “Something to be rejoiced over and not something to be sad about.”

Cooper Ridge Farm says if you want to have sessions at their farm, you have to have a consultation meeting before.

They want to make sure their farm is the right fit for your kids.

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