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Birds of Prey Help Green Chimneys Students Build Skills and Soar

November 18, 2017

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May 24, 2016

Nestled in a quiet “corner” of our bustling Brewster campus, not far from the horse and livestock barns, and just beyond a majestic pair of willow trees, resides the Paul C. Kupchok Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. Within you’ll find a classroom, animal triage care area, large display and flight cages, woodland paths and naturalistic habitats along with nearly 50 permanently injured or orphaned birds including local and rare breeds – Andean condor; Griffon vulture; numerous hawks, falcons, and owls; several crows and golden eagles.

So, what does a wildlife center have to do with children facing mental health challenges?

The center is one in a concert of nature-based educational and therapeutic opportunities for Green Chimneys School students. For these children, many of whom are learning how to relate to others, manage emotions or impulse control, and enhance communication skills, making connections to the natural world is part of their experience at Green Chimneys. From chores on the farm and helping care for the animals, to science classes and riding lessons, to animal-assisted activities and therapies, students are building skills and empathy – tools to last a lifetime.

As we prepare for June 5 and our biggest community event of the year, Birds of Prey Day, we can’t help but reflect on the various ways these permanently injured and orphaned wildlife help Green Chimneys students learn and grow. Here are a few visual examples:

Young minds take flight in the wildlife classroom with ample opportunities to get hands-on and benefit from experiential learning.

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Visits with wildlife and a favorite staff member can serve as great quality time or an acknolwedgement for good work.

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Partnering with wildlife is sometimes incorporated into a student's treatment plan and can be an excellent facilitator in occupational, speech and other therapies.

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Learning from seeing, doing and caring. Through helping care for the animals, students gain self esteem and transition from care receiver to care giver.

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By celebrating milestones, like the release of a healed bird, we celebrate growth and change within ourselves, too.

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Experience Green Chimneys in person, joins us for Birds of Prey Day >

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