Life Skills & Special Needs

Many of our youth visitors have special needs, or could benefit from additional support in developing life skills. We offer a variety of customizable opportunities for students who need a little extra. Learning outcomes from these experiences include:

  • Meditation, setting personal boundaries, and self-care, developing better resiliency, coping skills, higher self-esteem, and greater self-worth- skills that will better empower students for success for their time in public school classrooms and beyond.
  • Planting and harvesting garden crops, using fresh produce to create their own meals and treats for the animals and focus on environmental sustainability.
  • Exercising on nature hikes integrating physical activity, observation techniques, listening skills, and reflection.
  • Interacting with the sanctuary’s animal caregivers, educators, animals, and additional staff as well as peers to learn appropriate communication skills, recognizing social cues, and respectful conversational exchanges- skills that will reinforce behavior expectations in school and beyond.
  • Playing, enjoying, and creating in an inclusive, non-judgmental, safe space with a focus on kindness, healing, compassion, and being true to oneself.

Along with a rich curriculum built on the arts, STEM, and literacy, participants are provided with healthy meals, outdoor games, physical activity, and the opportunity to build positive relationships with peers along with rescued farm animals while striving for a healthy lifestyle and more compassionate mindset. Each session will feature a hands-on curriculum where children will get to express themselves via music, art, and creative writing activities designed to help them develop unique independent thinking skills and empower them to lead compassionate and confident lives. 

According to a new review by University College London, up to 10 percent of the population is affected by specific learning disabilities, translating to two or three pupils in every classroom. Those disabilities include disorders such as dyslexia, autism, Attention Deficit Disorder, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, to name a few. While there are many interventions to help children with learning disabilities, very few exist outside of the traditional classroom. Most programs include smaller class sizes, certified instructors, and altered lesson plans, but little attention is given to the learning environment and the need for interaction, play, and non-traditional learning aides—features that many children require for educational success.

A 2011 study by Adele Diamond and Kathleen Lee illustrates that the presence of a dog in an educational setting supports concentration, attention, motivation, and relaxation. Those benefits reflect a reduction of high-stress levels which inhibit effective learning and performance. The study also showed that “the presence of a dog creates a pleasant social atmosphere, which is known to be an essential component for optimal executive functioning, which represents a precondition for learning.”

It is widely recognized that being in the presence of an animal aids students in a child’s learning, and Indraloka’s Hopeful Heroes will allow them to not only acquire knowledge about the animals but to interact with them and care for them in a relaxing and open natural setting —not just in a traditional classroom.