"At our residential campus, we strive to offer opportunities for our students to learn through fun and hands-on experiences, which was the primary focus when we brought baby chicks to campus this past spring. These fluffy chicks captured the curiosity and hearts of our students and staff. The students loved to hold the chicks and even offered to help clean the chicken bedding, which is a rather stinky job. This is just one of the ways that chickens help our students learn responsibility and take ownership of something that is important to them.
As the chicks were little, the students learned to be gentle and calm around them. Our students often struggle to regulate their behaviors, but it is amazing to see the empathy and focus that a child can have when the well-being of a fragile chick is in the balance. One interesting fact about chickens is that a stressed hen will not lay eggs. This is a concept that our students can understand, since it is hard for them to go about life when they are stressed. But if we stay calm, our chickens will be happy and able to accomplish what we hope for them to accomplish.
As the chicks grew, we needed to build them a forever home. Through the generosity of Zeeland Lumber, we received a discount on the supplies needed to build our chicks a cozy and secure coop. The students helped make the coop a wonderful home for our chickens. The young girl students helped paint the coop a bright aqua blue with a vibrant green trim as a part of Girl Scouts. The young boys helped bury the large posts that created the structure for our outdoor chicken run. The teens in our on-site school helped to attach the fencing to the run structure in order to keep our chickens safe from other animals. One young student practiced his carpentry skills by helping build several things, including a sturdy roost for our chickens to perch on.
Just a few weeks ago, our hens began to lay their first eggs! We are now receiving our own supply of tan, brown and blue eggs, which the students love to collect and take home. Contrary to normal chores, the students look forward to chicken chores and being able to spend time with our small flock.
We are proud we are able to offer these unique experiences to the children we serve and thank those who support our mission of helping kids heal." By Shana McGovern, LLMSW, Adventure Specialist