The flock at Zachariah’s Acres has helped thousands of guests with special needs build confidence and life skills. For the members of the YMCA Service Without Boundaries program in Oconomowoc, WI, seeing the flock of picking, pecking, egg-laying chickens is the highlight of their week. Especially for Andrew, a member of the YMCA program who lives with Down syndrome.
Andrew has been visiting the chickens at Zachariah’s Acres for a few years now. In that time he’s become an expert at egg gathering, and caring for the birds. For Andrew, like most people, caring for a flock of chickens is something he wouldn’t normally do. He gets to bond with animals and build his confidence with nature in a way that most young adults like him don’t ever get to experience.
“You can feel that he wants to be here. He wants to be with the chickens. He’s feeling that positive energy the chickens bring to us all. He’s doing something that he can’t do at home.”
-Lorrie, Volunteer with the YMCA
To Andrew and the many other guests who visit Zachariah’s Acres every day, it’s more than just “feeding birds.” He has a chance to get excited about a job well done, and to grow a little with every visit to the coop. That’s something the volunteers who work with Zachariah’s Acres or the YMCA have noticed as well.
“Andrew has learned to step out of his comfort zone. [He’s learned] to try something different, instead of just being passive, and sitting around, or letting other people do work for him. He’ll initiate that work…And that’s just come with time and comfort out here.”
-Emily, Head of Community Outreach at Zachariah’s Acres
Because of his time at Zachariah’s Acres, Andrew has built confidence, he’s developed valuable life skills, and he’s grown. That was given to him by a flock of chickens. That shows that any animal can have an amazing impact on a person’s life. That is why we’re so happy to support amazing places like Zachariah’s Acres.