A Healing Environment

As you enter the barn doors, there is no denying that Healing H’Arts is first and foremost a place of love and acceptance. People from various walks of life traverse along their separate paths until they intersect at the junction that is Healing H’Arts. They discover that, at this junction, judgement is withheld while grace is offered at every turn. The compassion, kindness, and empathy that radiates within these walls reveals to them that this a safe space. It is a safe space for learning, thinking, and feeling. And it tells them that, perhaps, this junction is more than just a pit stop along the way: it’s a piece of home. When I received my 8-week placement at Healing H’Arts, I knew it would be a unique and rare opportunity. I knew it would require me to step greatly out of my comfort zone, but it was a challenge I was eager to tackle. As an occupational therapy assistant student, I was tasked with providing the best care possible to a wide variety of individuals with diverse backgrounds, diagnoses, and skills. Throughout this experience, I’ve been privileged enough to learn about the various ways in which horses serve as an effective therapeutic tool. Horses facilitate typical walking patterns, activate all parts of the brain at once, and can help with sensory regulation. Not to mention, forming a trusting relationship with a 2,000-pound animal can be very empowering — a 2,000-pound animal that senses your state of mind, heart, and soul. I’ve witnessed first-hand the healing that relationship can generate, and that’s just in 8 short weeks… Imagine the possibilities! Truthfully, I owe my newly cultivated skills and this remarkable experience to the powerhouse that is Kirsta Malone. Kirsta is a fierce force of nature; she is the one constantly running (or sprinting) behind the scenes to keep the barn afloat while still extending her invaluable services to the community; she is the one leading young, aspiring minds on the farm as they learn about responsibility and hard work ethic; she is the one perpetually advocating for so many individuals without a voice. And through all of this, she maintains her kind and enthusiastic spirit. Quite literally, Kirsta is one of the most genuine people I know. It has been an honor collaborating with and learning from a true expert (though she’d never claim that title herself). The vast number of dedicated volunteers, the local sponsors, and the outpouring of love and support from clients and their families is a true testament to the work that is done here at Healing H’Arts. I am sad to be leaving, but I know my journey at this facility isn’t over. This chapter is ending, but the story isn’t. After all, Healing H’Arts is more than just a pit stop: it’s a piece of home. With peace, love, and kindness,Stefanie 

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