Ironstone Farm’s newest frontier is one parents have wanted someone to explore for years.
After a whirlwind of construction this past winter, Ironstone has opened a new Arts & Education Center to provide dynamic programming to many groups of children and young adults. Ironstone pursued this goal because many parents said their children with special needs needed more after-school programs where they were truly included.
The Arts & Education Center is expected to provide:
- after-school programs for children with disabilities in the areas of art and music, movement, cooking, social-skill building and outdoor recreation;
- Equine Exposure programs that can feature hands-on involvement with our horses and with the arts;
- preschool programs for those aging out of early intervention; and
- educational opportunities for the family members of our constituency.
“What has made Ironstone so successful is people get the therapy they need, but they can do it on a horse and not in some boring office. I personally want that level of innovation to be the golden thread through the Arts & Education Center programs,” says Rebecca Allen, the center’s director.[caption id="attachment_2924" align="alignleft" width="150"] Director Rebecca Allen and musician Seamus Gersy sit in the new center’s music room.[/caption]
This fall, Ironstone Farm and the Real School of Music’s Reach 4 Real program are collaborating to offer a performing arts and music program for students with developmental and intellectual disabilities. High-school-age students (14 to 22 years old) will take part in music class, rehearsal and cool downs, all culminating in a live performance.
It is anticipated that other after-school programs will begin later this fall. Registration is now being accepted. [People can call to schedule a tour, meet the staff and get registration information at 978-475-4056 Ext. 30.]
In the future, the kitchen can be used to teach cooking, nutrition, and functional skills of daily living for 17- to 22-year-olds who are transitioning to their life after their school years. A goal for these students is to gain independence in preparation for living in a new environment.
But the cooking programs will not be traditional kitchen-only classes. As part of learning to cook, people will grow a garden, and go outside to select ingredients themselves. “That fosters more independence, exposes everyone to gardening and that may be something they discover they’re really good at,” Rebecca says. “It’s all in how it’s delivered. If you’re doing music and arts and nature walks and you’re good at one, then you build the self-esteem.”
A licensed clinical social worker, Rebecca brings to her role seven years of experience with a community-based mental health agency, where she worked with schools, the courts and hospitals to create programs for youth and their families.
The center will increase the programming available to the community. “We’re uniquely positioned where everyone in a family can get something here. One person could be coming for riding, one sibling could be coming for a book club or to cook pizzas, a parent could be coming for yoga,” says Rebecca.