We live in a concrete, violent, noisy, high tech, busy world. We have lost our connection to animals, to nature, and most of all, to ourselves. Animals are living lives of torment from beginning to end, their cries are unheard, their pain is unseen, and they are suffering. The rate of heart disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes has never been higher. The rain forests are being destroyed, we are in a global drought, we are polluting our air, and species go extinct every day. But by having reverence for all life and by reconnecting with Mother Earth we each can change all that. At The Gentle Barn we stand up for the innocent, and we help animals and children alike remember that they matter. We open people’s hearts to the connections with nature. We open people’s minds to what is happening around us. And we inspire people to be an integral part of the solution. Through the stories and interactions with our animals, we can raise future generations to have reverence for all life, protect our planet, live good, healthy, happy lives, and we will all be closer to having peace on earth!
The Gentle Barn is an educational facility that teaches children about animals in a way that will change their perspectives about themselves and the world around them. Staff members seek to show children that even though we all look different, we are all the same inside. Every living being has language and needs food, water, shelter and love. Programs at The Gentle Barn teach the children why roosters crow, why pigs love mud, why goats chew, and how each species communicates through body language. At The Gentle Barn kids gain an understanding of animals, see how much they have in common with them, and get to expand their empathy for all living beings.
The Gentle Barn is currently located in Los Angeles, California, Knoxville, Tennessee, and St Louis, Missouri. It is open to the public once a week for guests to hug the cows, give the pigs tummy rubs, cuddle the turkeys, feed the horses, hold the chickens, and learn their stories of resilience. During the rest of the week The Gentle Barn is available for private tours, VIP all day tours, school field trips, birthday parties, groups of at risk, inner city, and special needs kids, and special events.
“We believe that animals can provide unconditional love, kindness, and a non-judgmental attitude to all,” says The Gentle Barn website. “The animals at The Gentle Barn have so much love to give back, and we believe they are perfect for people with special needs.”
You can take a private two-hour tour, which includes a maximum of 20 people 2 Hour Private Tour and has a donation price of $400.
You may also book a VIP Day Tour, which includes having the barnyard to yourself and lunch with founder Ellie Laks. You receive an intimate six-hour experience where you learn the history of The Gentle Barn, a personal introduction to all of the animals on both of The Gentle Barn’s California properties, and share their stories of rescue and recovery. It costs a suggested donation of $1,000 and includes a maximum of five people.
Groups from high-risk teens to foster youth have a place at The Gentle Barn. The environment is safe and quiet, giving groups the freedom to be themselves, and the room to explore at their own pace. The animals teach forgiveness, love, trust, and a sense of responsibility, which means a lot to many children, especially those with special needs, says The Gentle Barn website.
Their visits from September through June include activities to cultivate self-awareness and hope for the future, such as working in the vegetable garden to connect with Mother Earth, walking horses to practice leadership skills, holding smaller animals to practice gentleness, and going on nature hikes to talk about resilience. Each time they come out to The Gentle Barn, these special guests open up, become vulnerable, relate to the animals, and find more and more of themselves in the barnyard.
“Watching clean city kids come for the first time is an amazing thing,” says Ellie Laks, founder of The Gentle Barn. “They are stand-offish at first, or concerned about getting dirty. But after hearing stories of the animals, similar to their stories, they very quickly open up, and before we know it, they are hugging and cuddling the animals with no concern for their cleanliness or tough reputations at all. At The Gentle Barn we get to see miracles every day, and I am so grateful to be able to do this work!”
A Gentle Thanksgiving
The Gentle Barn is celebrating life with a holiday event for the community. Each year, guests to A Gentle Thanksgiving are treated to a gourmet vegan meal, in addition to time with the animals that includes feeding cranberries and vegan treats to The Gentle Barn’s turkeys. There will be various activities such as a Native American drum circle, music and dancing. Also, attendees each receive a gift bag filled with donated products from The Gentle 52 Sponsors.
The purpose of the event is to celebrate the spirit of Thanksgiving in a cruel-free way that honors animals and raises the awareness of a plant-based diet (veganism).
The event runs from 3-8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017. Tickets are $200 for adults and $175 for kids age 12 and under. You may purchase tickets on the website, GentleBarn.org.