Farm Animals Help Children Overcome Trauma

Our Chica program in action! Rescued farm animals are helping children of addicted and incarcerated parents find back to joy and build resilience. More and more grandparents are raising young children due to unavailability of one or both parents. This is happening to such an extent that the newest generation is now sometimes referred to as the ‘Heroin Orphans’. While so many grandparents do all they possibly can to help those kids, the fallout of the trauma of parental addiction and incarceration is difficult to dispell. In such trying situations, our Chica program and our rescued farm animals can lend a helping hand. Animals give unconditional love and in an unspoken way teach the children about taking life one moment at a time. Some of our 4-legged friends have been through horrific abuse and neglect. Their unique stories of survival can encourage more mature kids such as teenagers to engage in conversations with us about trauma recovery, rebuilding the ability to trust, self-acceptance, expressing one’s needs in a relationship with others, being authentic and much more.

image above: a young boy who participates in our program fell in love with pig Charlie. Back home, he wrote a letter to Charlie and brought it with him to his next farm visit for Charlie to see. The letter reads: “Dear Charlie, you are important to me, Love me”

“Animals are great equalizers. They don’t care about your looks, how wealthy or popular you are, or if your parents have been in jail. They take you for who you are, in your heart, in this very moment in time” — Diana Shaffner

image on left: a young visitor and Diana having a light-hearted chat about pig Charlie while farm dog Patrick keeps a watchful eye out to get some attention as well.

Chica farm visits don’t follow a certain protocol. Rather, they are shaped by what the child needs and wants to do most at the time. The purpose is to give the child a special time to destress. The sanctuary is a judgment- and pressure-free environment. It is our hope that through repeated farm visits a child can start to think of the farm as his or her own sanctuary, a place to come to that is not in any way connected to old traumatic memories or relationships. The atmosphere at the farm can have a healing effect even if revisited mentally. We always encourage the child’s guardian to extend this effect to home by getting the child to draw or write for the animals. Having a ‘mental sanctuary’ and learning how to revisit it is a powerful stress management technique that children and adults alike can benefit from. We all need a sanctuary in one form or another.

We accept children of all ages into the program. While there is a fee for the program, we work with those who are in financial hardship by finding sponsors who might support a child’s farm visits. Please feel free to inquire at

You can also anonymously sponsor a child by making a donation to this program. We do accept all forms of payment. Donations via credit card can be made at our online storefront at

If you would like to become a business sponsor and have your logo displayed on our website and promotional materials, please call Diana at 8595503027 or email to

image above: Billy the Bear is also very popular with our Chicas!



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