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I read in the Greencastle Banner Graphic about your program for youth affected by domestic violence and the horse show you hosted for those unable to participate in the Special Olympics.  What wonderful programs!  You may never know how important these events were to the children.  Thanks for all you have given to your fellow Hoosiers.

--Becky Skillman, Indiana Lieutenant Governor.

Hope Haven offers an opportunity for “at risk youth” and “youth with disabilities” to develop essential life connections necessary for daily living.  The needs to feel loveable, worthwhile, capable and responsible are the components of a positive self-concept, and those that all of us desire.  Through the mentorship program with horses offered by Hope Haven, disconnected youth are finding a way to reconnect.  The Hope Haven Program has worked with students from Cloverdale and surrounding schools and is making a difference and truly providing a revived hope for them.            

--Dave Walton, Assistant Principal Cloverdale Middle School

I am writing to let you know what a difference Hope Haven has made in the life of my child.  When she began riding at Hope Haven she progressed three years of physical abilities in the span of just one year according to her physical therapist.  There is nothing we have tried that has made such a great a change in such a small time.  She is also more confident and at ease with typical children, as she has such positive interactions at the farm with children of all abilities.  The farm has offered her safety, comfort, unconditional love and a feeling of freedom which many disabled children never get to enjoy.  Thank you for making my little girl’s dreams come true.           

--Karen Sutherlin, Mother

One day my daughter came home and made me aware of how alone and limited she felt.  She looked at me with tears on her cheeks and said her brothers and sisters had sports and cheerleading and all she had was Spina Bifida. She felt she would never be able to be involved in things most kids get too growing up.  Things like belonging to a team, learning to depend on your teammates, making memories as a teammate, and learning it takes work and effort to achieve goals as a team or as an individual.  After becoming a part of the programs at Hope Haven she has been given the chance to develop a relationship with a horse and other girls at the farm.  She has been given the chance to see that she is important to people outside of her immediate family.  She has been given he chance to see that other kids feel as unacceptable as she does, and she’s been given the chance to accept that she has Spina Bifida, it does NOT have her.  She can accept that everyone has something they don’t like about themselves.  She can accept that she has a lot of positive qualities she can contribute to people.  In closing Hope Haven is a God-sent in my eyes.  It is a program where kids can forget the problems they feel define them as an individual.  It reinforces the fact that we define ourselves by what we do, how we act towards others and ourselves, and how we view ourselves.

---Darcy L. Rominger, Mother

As a mother of three boys, we are unique in that all of our children have special needs, from autism, to ADHD, to emotional handicap.  The horse farm has given so much-both individually to each of our boys and as a whole to our family.  Hope Haven was a turning point in the lives of our teenage boys-who were quickly self-destructing.  Having the choice and opportunity in our community to teach our children love of animals, respect for animals and other human beings, respect for life and death, work ethics, values of volunteering, self-respect, self-worth, and the list goes on and on, is invaluable and must be supported.

---Teresa Johnson, Mother

The tattered burlap seed bags hanging on the walls of the old barn are joined by a sign reading ‘Always plant Indiana certified seeds for top yields.’ While the bags and the sign stand as monuments to the century of hard work that has been done by the same family on this western Indiana farm, the property is now being used to plant seeds in young people still waiting for their lives to take root and blossom.  The horse farm’s positive impact on youth is a harvest that the old farm can certainly be proud of.   

----Indiana Youth Institute:  2005 Indiana Youth Investment Award.

A quiet but determined young lady spearheaded the Hope Seekers group during 2005.  She describes one youngster from the Day Camp, "He was 8 years old, had muscular dystrophy and couldn’t walk.  When he was making his T-shirt, he couldn’t get the paint to squeeze out of the bottle.  I took his hand with the bottle in it and helped him decorate his shirt.  After that, he looked at me with those big eyes and he made my heart melt. I was on the verge of tears because I knew that moments like this are what make all of this worthwhile." In Christina Menke’s words, "The biggest thing that I see is that kids can make a difference in the lives of other at risk youth."

Here at YAR, we agree.

----Diane Murer, Youth As Resources of Central Indiana United Way.

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