|Palmers Cross Head teacher Carole Fenton|
Palmers Cross Primary is linking up with Green Meadow sanctuary in Pattingham to give six chidren - all with additional needs - extra help through holistic education therapy (HET).
The students’ concerns vary widely - from autism through to physical abuse. The HET project sees the six pupils working closely alongside sanctuary animals which have also suffered ill-treatment, neglect or physical abuse.
|Heave ho! HET in action|
On top of hands-on, get-as-messy-as-you-like-farm visits where children are encouraged to talk about their adopted pet’s condition (a time which can lead to children revealing and understanding their own, rather than their pet’s, situation), HET includes a wide range of techniques that could include counselling, art therapy, stress management, relaxation, massage and herbal essence remedies.
Devotees of the complementary therapy believe: by introducing creatures which have endured some form of damage, children learn things - about themselves, about the animals, about their relationships - which prove beneficial for their personal development.
|Green Meadow's Billy the goat|
This has been backed up by project leaders at both the school and Green Meadow who agree that initial responses have proved extremely encouraging - for all concerned.
"Certainly, we’re committed to this project for at least another two years because it’s making such a difference to the children," said Carole Fenton, the Palmers Cross head teacher, after pledging to adopt two Green Meadow animals for her special six.
|Work at Green Meadow|
Sanctuary owner Daphne Wain is convinced that HET enables both children and animals to enjoy an empathy which helps maximise any relevant healing processes.
"A lof of people think many of my animals here, especially the sheep, are really dumb," she said, "but I know - and so do these children by the looks of it - that these animals are really very intelligent.
|Milk time at Green Meadow|
"Somehow, these animals seem to connect with the children - it can be really magical, believe me."
When relevant health statistics are considered (just a brief look at, for example, the national rise in autism in the past two decades, going from one child in every 2,500 pre-1980 to one in every 250 in 2007), the need for partnerships like the Green Meadow/Palmers Cross project seems ever more urgent.
Green Meadow stages an open day from 10am on Saturday June 2, 2007.