Submitted by Andy Krauss of Easter Seals Greater Washington-Baltimore Region:
The Easter Seals Respite Services Program hosted its annual trip to the Green Meadows Petting Farm & Pumpkin Patch in Jessup, Md. on Oct. 6 for a gorgeous day of hayrides, arts & crafts, animals and pumpkin picking to celebrate the fall season. The event provided much-needed respite for wounded soldiers and spouses as well as individual support and fun activities for their children.
Easter Seals Greater Washington-Baltimore Region recently expanded its respite program to include “Little Warriors,” children of wounded soldiers. The program currently serves children with special needs and their siblings. Each child (ages 6 weeks to 13 years) was paired with a trained volunteer throughout the event.
The opportunity to get up close and personal with the animals was the highlight of the day for children and volunteers alike. Participants got a chance to pet, chase, and hold goats, chickens, turkeys, and even emus. Each child was given an opportunity to decorate a pumpkin and take it home.
Volunteer Derek Huxford enjoyed the day he spent with Mason, 6. “This event is my favorite because these kids get to see and interact with so many animals that they wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to,” said Huxford. “Coming out to these type of events is very fulfilling. It does as much for us [volunteers]as it does for them. It helps us forget about our problems during the week and have a great day with great kids.”
“Military families are at increased risk of depression and other symptoms of distress,” said Brooke Kaiser, Easter Seals Respite Services Director. “Our respite intervention is a positive step in creating a healthy and stable home environment. This event in particular is extremely popular with the children and volunteers alike. The fall foliage and seasonal weather made the event even more festive.”