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Richmond, CA: Therapy farm animals used for "at-risk students" instead of suspensions

Jan 4, 2018, Fresno (CA) Bee: Animal-assisted therapy helps students cope with anxiety http://www.fresnobee.com/news/article193081674.html Educators may employ many tactics to correct behavioral issues among students. … One suburban school district is taking a unique approach: animal-assisted therapy. McHenry High School District 156 this year, in partnership with Main Stay Therapeutic Farm in Richmond, launched the pilot experiential learning program for at-risk students that's an alternative to detentions and suspensions.... District 156 has been partnering with Main Stay for three years, allowing select students, including special education classrooms, to participate in animal-assisted activities and therapy and do community service there. … Program officials are trying to quantify the effects of the therapy and hope to expand the program to other school districts. "This is such a need nationally," said Carla Kaizen, animal assisted learning manager. "Our hope is we really want other school districts to hear about it. It benefits communities because those kids then do stay out of trouble and graduate." Students often are dealing with behavioral challenges or unresolved traumas in their lives beyond their emotional capacity to handle, officials said. … Through the program, students are taught free association and how to groom and care for animals, such as goats, sheep, miniature horses and rabbits, while learning positive coping skills for confronting conflict in their own lives. …