Infinity Acres Ranch Launches New Animal-Based Learning Program For People with Special Needs
Ridgeway, VA - A couple from Henry County have been sharing the animals on their farm with the community for years now. Soon, they'll launch a program that will use those animals to help adults and children with special needs. A new program called 'Enable,' will use all different types animals to help those with physical and intellectual disabilities. The owners have seen first-hand how animal-based therapy can work. Their son has autism and they've seen major improvements. Now, they want to share it with everyone else.Since 2007, Infinity Acres Ranch in Ridgeway has provided educational and interactive tours to children and adults. Owners Rick and Laura Steere provide summer camps and group tours, showing their 22 different species of animals. "We're licensed breeders of red fox, arctic fox chinchillas, sugar gilders, rabbits, alpacas, llamas and fainting goats," said Laura Steere. Enable focuses on those with special needs by offering enriching, nurturing, animal-based learning experiences. "There is a huge population of people with disabilities, and have nothing to do, nowhere to go, and we want to offer that opportunities to others. We've seen the benefits and would like to share that," Laura Steere said. The couples' son, Michael, has autism and has been working through the animal-based therapy for a year now."We work to improve fine and gross motor skills. And that can be something as much as doing some of the crafts, or as much as grooming the animals, learning to lead and walk them, train them, develop an emotional bond with them," Steere said. "Since he's been here he's lost weight, he looks forward to being with the animals and his blood pressure has gone down to normal, he's off medicine, so we're thinking that is a good indication of what the program, not us, but what the animals can do for people," Rick Steere said. The program will have medical professionals and educators on hand. The program starts in May and enrollment is open. If you would like to get involved in the program, call Infinity Acres Ranch at 276-358-2378.