APPLING, Ga. (WJBF) – A ribbon cutting will be held for a special platform at an Appling farm Saturday. This place is known as a “small farm with a big heart.” NewsChannel Six’s Mary Morrison found out why.
Welcome to Cooper Ridge Farm in Appling, Georgia. A little slice of Heaven on earth about 30 minutes from Augusta.
The farm belongs to Josephine and Justin Fuller.
Fuller said, “When we acquired this farm, we realized that when we got home from work, and hit the gravel road that we could breathe a sigh of relief and it was a release and as we began to acquire our animals we really thought that we had something special here”.
The farm evolved into a place for people with special needs to receive animal assisted therapy.
People like Jude McKinney, an enthusiastic child with down syndrome. Jude had a frontal lobe stroke at birth. His right side is affected.
Jude’s mom, Jennifer McKinney said, “If you watch him you can see it but Josephine has done tremendous work with him so unless you’re looking for it, you really can’t see it.”
“He’s even starting to so some of his primary motor function with his right side which is fantastic”.
After pulling on his boots, Jude checks the scheduled and gets to work. First up, feed the cows. Jenny is his favorite.
This newly constructed platform, from which to feed the animals is a gift from Women in Philanthropy, a non-profit group in Augusta.
The platform serves a very important purpose.
Justin Fuller said, “It allows an up close personal interaction with an animal that you wouldn’t be able to see with some of these kids, especially the smaller ones.”
Jude is learning so much here on the farm. Even brushing the pigs is part of his therapy.
It’s helping Jude with his fine motor skills.
His sister, Matilda, is also a client.
Like Jude, she has down syndrome.
Jude’s mother said, “The benefit I see here for my children with special needs is that they are accepted for who they are, and they are rejoiced in for who they are, and it’s not about trying to fix them its about trying to equip them to be who God created them to be.”
In all, Cooper Ridge has 21 clients, each with a plan designed especially for them.
Augusta University students in the occupational and physical therapy programs help document the progress of the participants.
Currently there’s a waiting list at Cooper Ridge Farm but if the Fuller’s dream comes true, expansion may be on the horizon.
Josephine Fuller said, “We do have another piece of land we would like to develop on so it’s just a matter of getting there.”
They may be closer than they think.
To learn more about the farm, click here.