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KVC Hospitals

People Matter
 

Animals, Art, Play and Gardening Help Children Heal

At KVC Prairie Ridge Hospital, treatment is integrated with expressive therapies to help children through the healing process. Programs such as animal assisted therapy, play therapy, challenge course activities, emotion regulation and horticulture therapy give children and adolescents activities that are fun and tailored to their treatment goals.

IMG_0242When not conducting groups on the unit, certified canine Stella sits patiently waiting for her opportunity to help a child in need. Children can request to see Stella when feeling anxious, nervous or desire companionship. Stella and recreational therapist Karen Duarte are both certified to provide animal assisted therapy. They lead daily groups on relaxation techniques, building empathy and relationship skills.

Play and art therapy allow children to use their creativity to overcome emotional and social skill deficits. Expression through play and art “provides vehicles for the therapist to speak the child’s language and address complicated symptoms and social issues, which would otherwise face resistance and may go unaddressed,” said Astra Garner, Director of Clinical Services.

Prairie Ridge’s 75 acres of outdoor space allows children to run, play and simply be children. The Hidden Creek Challenge Course is a fully functional ropes course which helps build self-awareness, courage, trust and teamwork skills.

Youth can also participate in horticulture therapy, which allows them to learn about wellness and building relaxation and focus skills. Megan Brinker, KVC’s full time registered dietician, oversees this program and helps children learn to eat healthy and live a well-balanced lifestyle.