Our Nature-Based Model

Decades of practice in human-animal interactions and nature-based therapies have distinguished Green Chimneys as an innovator in special education and residential treatment. The interconnection of human well-being, animal welfare and environmental stewardship is ingrained in Green Chimneys’ founding principles and nature-based programs are an integral part of our campuses and organizational identity.

Our philosophy is based on the belief that, if children are given a chance to explore and discover their inherent strengths in a safe and structured nature-based environment, their self-esteem, compassion, coping and social skills will improve. The concept of an enriched treatment setting that brings people together with animals and plants in a mutually beneficial relationship lies at the foundation of our approach.

Animal interactions help children build critical skills such as trust, self-esteem, empathy, emotional regulation, and responsibility over time. Horticulture activities support social, academic, psychological and physical well-being. Environmental immersion supports improved concentration and mood regulation.

Contacts range from playing with a dog or rabbit during a session with a trained adult, to a more comprehensive approach where children experience an immersion with animals or nature, including therapeutic horseback riding, horticulture therapy including greenhouse and garden work, outdoor adventure activities. These activities offer emotional and behavioral benefits, embedded in valuable academic and life skill lessons.