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Walking Through a Storybook

On a hot summer day in July, a group of Healthy Footprints Adventure Community families gathered at The Gentle Barn in Santa Clarita. It was a private tour to meet the animals that live there, hear their stories, and learn from them. On a quick google search, the first sentence I found about The Gentle Barn was, "Teaching People Kindness and Compassion to Animals, Each Other and Our Planet." It is no wonder this is one of my favorite places to visit!

Our first stop was to meet the cows and learn how to give them hugs and receive love in return. These gentle giants loved to be brushed, hugged, and talked to by our group. It was as nurturing to our hearts as it seemed to be to theirs. We also had the opportunity to feed carrots to the horses, donkeys, and the new "unicorn" resident, give belly rubs to the piggies, pet the sweet goats, hold their chickens, admire mr. turkey, love on llamas, and meet the emu and peacock too! It was an experience unlike any other exploring the different areas of the sanctuary and hearing their stories. Most of the animal residents had been brought from abusive backgrounds to the Gentle Barn to live out their lives in peace.

At the end of the tour, the children gathered around the magic well, closed their eyes, dreamed their biggest dream, and made a wish for this to come true for them one day. Just like that of Ellie, founder of The Gentle Barn, who dreamed as a child to open a sanctuary as a child. This was such a sweet, magical, heart-warming moment that I could have froze in time.

I highly recommend visiting on a private tour for this more personal experience. On Sundays they are open to the public and this is also an excellent opportunity to explore the sanctuary. They also have a few food vendors, a full gift shop, shaded picnic areas, and limited time in each area on those days. They always require any food being brought into the sanctuary to be plant-based out of respect to the animals living there.

On this tour, Healthy Footprints Adventure Community donated over $740 to the Gentle Barn and was able to make this trip possible for four individuals who otherwise would not have been able to attend, at no-cost through our generous donors.

We are grateful to the animals for sharing their stories and their love, the tour guides for teaching us and being patient with our excited children and the animal residents, the parents who committed and made the trip, and all of the donations that helped make it all happen.

The Gentle Barn is an American nonprofit 501 animal sanctuary organization located in Santa Clarita, California, Dittmer, Missouri, and Christiana, Tennessee. Founded by Ellie Laks in 1999, The Gentle Barn's mission is to provide sanctuary for abused animals who would not otherwise be able to find homes.

July 28, 2022

By Suzy Gonzalez, HFAC Founder

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