Bright Side Youth Ranch has horses, mentors to help children cope with crisis

Bright Side Youth Ranch is in York, South Carolina working with children between the age of 8 and 18
Bright Side Youth Ranch has horses, mentors to help children cope with crisis
Published: Dec. 3, 2021 at 7:23 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Mental health and suicide are serious discussion topics.

There are a lot of great resources out there to help people who are struggling.

And there’s one really great local nonprofit that’s focusing on children.

Bright Side Youth Ranch focuses on children who have been through a crisis.

They reach their hearts with horses.

Bright Side Youth Ranch is in York, South Carolina working with children between the age of 8 and 18 who have experienced crisis and trauma or have been through difficult things and need an additional encouraging voice in their lives.

“So, we partner our kids with a mentor and a horse to work through their challenges, and we process their pain while they’re here,” said Tia Tharp, Executive Director of Bright Side Youth Ranch. “We’re faith-based. So, we do talk about Jesus while they’re here. But we also give them the tools to work through their pain and process that in a healthy way, and our horses are an exceptional way to do that, to reach the heart of a child are uniquely designed to reflect what’s happening inside of us.”

The children will come to meet with a mentor once a week for eight weeks. They also get to work with horses and they have a lesson they have to work through.

“That includes working with the horse and also talking through our curriculum,” Tharp said. “And each time that they come here, there’s a piece of that curriculum that’s going to help them process their pain. It’s all kids ages eight to 18, who have experienced some type of pain or some type of challenge that they can’t work through on their own.”

The children are there dealing with issues from anxiety to depression to suicidal thoughts or problems at home.

“(We have some) who might have a family that’s going through a divorce or experienced loss and grief, like a death in the family,” Tharp said. “We have some boys that are coming here today who have been adopted by their family. They’ve been in their family for quite some time now but there’s a history of pain of trauma that has been in their past. So, we try to partner the boys with the guys who are on our team and the girls with the female mentors on our team.”

William Bass is a mentor at Bright Side Youth Ranch. He mentored Abe Fichtinger for eight weeks last summer.

“He came here, just dealing with some various things with grief, with loss, things of that nature,” Bass said. “And my sole purpose here is we have a week program where we try to help the student or the individual cope with or to deal with whatever they’re going through.”

Fichtinger was having some issues with dealing with the loss of his mother and the disconnect with his father.

He said Bright Side Youth Ranch helped him through some of those issues.

“He helped me do like stuff that I couldn’t do, I like to express my feelings, because it kind of tells what’s kind of inside me and what kind of helps me helps him get out the things that are inside me, things that kind of trapped in there and sometimes gets me angry or sad,” Fichtinger said.

Tharp said the ranch works to keep the horses healthy and happy so that they can be the best that they can be in sessions with the children.

“And to do that it requires giving them adequate nutrition,” Tharp said. “And with, going into the winter months, our pasture is not as lush it goes into dormancy, and we have to increase the hay that we feed them horses require roughage and their diet. So we are looking to purchase 300 square bales through the winter and then also 20 to 25 round bales. And that requires about $3,500 total for both of those. It ends up being about $2,000 for the squares and $1,500 for the rounds. So, $3,500 total.”

The Bright Side Youth Ranch helps the children use the tools they need to face those difficulties.

“These kids, they are going through so much pain, and they don’t know what to do with it,” Tharp said. “They have no idea what to how to process that in a healthy way. And we want to be a place a safe place where they can feel loved and valued and heard and acknowledged, and someone who’s going to listen and walk with them through those difficulties. We want to point them to Jesus we want we believe that that’s the ultimate hope and healing for them. And we want to give them tools so that they can cope in case more difficult things come their way or just life sometimes as hard.”

For more on Bright Side Youth Ranch, visit the website here.

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