Christopher’s Choice has been set up to provide support for children and their families with additional needs, mental health issues such as severe anxiety and depression. We have launched a campaign called The Inside and Outside campaign to find funding to open a children’s outdoor therapy centre. We cannot move forward and support children and their families without it.
We have found a property and need financial support to allow us to make an offer.
Do you believe in us and what we do? could you be one of our backers and funders?
Equine Assisted Therapy
Animal Assisted Therapy
Forest school activities
Art and music Therapies
The centre will have onsite professionally trained therapists, forest school workers and animal handlers
Supporting children and their families with their mental health
Our main priority is to provide the right support for the needs of each individual child. We want to be able to give them access to animals, specifically ponies and smaller animals such as guinea pigs. We want to be able to allow them to connect with the natural outdoors by providing them with woodland experiences that are similar to forest school activities. We would like to give them the ability to access music and art. We would like to encourage them to be outside learning gardening skills, and sports such as swimming and tennis. We want to be able to do this on one property.
Encouraging children to learn new skills to improve and maintain good wellbeing
By providing experiences with animals and nature, music, art and sports, we also want to connect children to a new skill or interest. We feel that not only is it important to focus on improving and supporting their mental health, but that it is also important to support children in moving forward. This would involve encouraging and helping them to recognise their skills, talents and interests. Animals are able to give confidence to people in a way that others can’t, and this would be the first step to providing them with hope to move forward in their lives.
Animals can provide a sense of calm, comfort, or safety and divert attention away from a stressful situation and towards one that provides pleasure. Advocates of animal-assisted therapy say that developing a bond with an animal can help people develop a better sense of self-worth and trust, stabilize their emotions, and improve their communication, self-regulation, and socialization skills.
Supporting child mental health to provide hope for a good education
Not only is important to have a good mental well-being, to have hope and to move forward in a positive sense in life, it is important that you use these to support children to get the education they deserve. So often children lose their self confidence, suffer from depression, anxiety, losing a sense of worth, losing hope, self harming, have suicidal thoughts through to trying to come to terms with traumas in their lives. This can stop them from having a good education. The pressures of modern day life, and particulary the challenges in mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, all lead to a disruption in children’s lives. When you can encourage life skills through the work we can do with children, it will provide them with the confidence to continue to move forward in their education in life. Every child has a right to an education, and every child deserves the right to have the support to acheive this in their individual way for their individual needs.
How will we provide therapeutic experiences with animals?
By using animals, we would be providing therapeutic and educational experiences. Some of the things we endeavour to achieve are such things as using touch, being near an animal with confidence, learning the correct way to hold small animals such as guinea pigs and rabbits. Grooming, riding, learning to lead ponies, aswell caring for an animal’s wellbeing by learning tasks such as feeding, cleaning, and general good care and responsibilities. Children would work with staff members to learn and gain confidence in this process and also by being able to build strong relationships with an animal.
Why do we feel this is important?
The RCN states that ‘Animals are used to help humans in different ways. Studies suggest that the effects of pet ownership can be beneficial to physical, social and psychological wellbeing. Research has found that stroking a pet can be relaxing and can result in a reduction in blood pressure. The presence of pets can also promote social interaction and reduce psychological responses to anxiety’
How will we provide woodland and forest school activities?
Providing forest school activities in private woodland on the property, uses nature-based communities where trained practitioners nurture learner-led exploration and discovery, nurturing meaningful experiences for positive lifelong impacts by using the outdoors in woodland areas. These could be using such things as problem solving, assessing risk and communication, building bug hotels, identifying items found in the woodlands such as feathers, pinecones, pebbles and leaves. Using sticks and stones to build structures, building dens, whittling, opportunities to role play by using nature to build such things as crowns, hats, caves, dens. Have a camp fire, cook food on the camp fire. Use the clay and water from a stream to build objects. Be creative. There would also be opportunities to run camps.
Why do we feel that this is important?
The Forest school Association states:
A study showed that children’s academic attainment, social development, and emotional well-being increased as a result of Forest School activities.’It is able to promote good social development and emotional and psychological well being, along with good development and an understanding of new skills and interests.
How will we support children with music?
The property that we want to purchase, has outbuildings already in place that would provide spaces for children to learn musical skills to support their mental wellbeing. Music therapists would be brought into the organisation using their professional skills in these areas. The unique properties of Music Therapy means it has the potential to play a vital role in sustaining the health and wellbeing of our society into the future.
Why do we feel that is important?
The British Association for music therapy states:
Priority areas of public health, care and social wellbeing, such as maximising opportunities for vulnerable children, improving child mental wellbeing and caring for the growing number of children affected by the latest pandemic , are all areas where Music Therapy has shown it has an important contribution to make.
How will we support children with art?
Art is a technique rooted in the idea that creative expression can foster healing and mental well-being. Art, either creating it or viewing others’ art, is used to help people explore emotions, develop self-awareness, cope with stress, boost self-esteem, and work on social skills. With the out buildings on the property we have identified to purchase, gives us the ability to provide these experiences to children.
Why do we feel that is important?
The British Association of art therapists states:
Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses art media as its primary mode of expression and communication. Within this context, art is not used as diagnostic tool but as a medium to address emotional issues which may be confusing and distressing.