Nature Heals is a registered nonprofit, charitable organization that provides nature-based therapies in order to improve the mental and emotional well-being of children and/or adults who would not usually be able to afford these therapies.
Although Nature Heals achieved its status as a nonprofit in October 2016, it was conceived decades ago by 3 young sisters as they roamed on a 100-acre farm in Virginia, riding their ponies there and beyond. They dreamt of the time when they would have their own farm and would be able to share their happy times of freely riding, playing in ponds and hunting for berries with others.
At the same time, riding horses and caring for gardens became their respite from their own childhood and young adult crises with bullying, low self esteem, isolation and not fitting in with friends. The environment helped to ground them and modulate their anxieties and life stressors, while training and riding horses empowered them and gave them a sense of accomplishment and freedom.
Unfortunately, the happy story had periods of trauma and despair interwoven as most family stories do. Onlookers would have perceptions of a perfect family, but like in many families, the reality was different as they struggled with the outcome of alcoholism, divorce, eating disorder, substance abuse and abusive relationships. Time passed, crises were met and grown through as they received love, support and counseling, as well as plenty of time in Nature.
College degrees and Masters diplomas were obtained and solid relationships built. And then the dream was resurrected, when as women, they realized the value of all they had gone through and the sustenance they received from being in Nature. So they came together and established a riding facility, which trains horses and teaches children, not just about riding skills and horsemanship, but about life. The core philosophy is that Nature and horses mirror the ups and downs of life, the relatedness of individuals to each other, and that the way we cope with daily disappointments can strengthen us as individuals.
They also realized that most cannot afford this type of relationship with Nature and horses, so Nature Heals was birthed to give back to those that are not so fortunate. They each bring to the organization differing skill sets: Brittany with two masters degrees in psychology, Ellie with a degree in interior architecture and graphics and Liese with a master's in public anthropology and a past history of working with nonprofits.
At this time, the nonprofit is growing with a strong board, a passionate group of volunteers and a huge heart. We met our first year's financial goals and are pleased that we can therefore participate in Colorado Gives! We have developed and are running several programs to assist varying groups in our community who are in need of intervention. In addition to being excited for the wonderful referrals and testimonials from clients, we also have received grants from the Longmont Community Foundation, as well as national support from Milk Specialties Products and the Princeton Area Community Foundation. As a nonprofit in its second year, we are thrilled with our progress and invite others to participate in our growth from the these beginning steps onward.
"My daughter, Hayley, started riding here about a year and a half ago due to low self-confidence from her learning disability. Since she started riding, her self-confidence has soared. She is willing to try anything and everything. She has caught up academically for the most part with most of her peers, and she no longer has any negative self-talk. Regan, her younger sister, saw how much fun that Hayley had when she was riding and she decided that she wanted to try it as well. Since she has been riding, there has been a great improvement in her muscle tone as well as her desire to be outside and she too is coming out of her shell. We are truly grateful for these programs, for my daughters are not just learning how to ride a horse or care for a horse, but Brittany, Ellie and Liese are instilling precious, priceless life lessons to them."
Mother of Hayley, age 7 and Regan, age 5
"Went to Boundaries and Balance today. Very good experience. The ladies running the program are compassionate, professional, and know both horses and people very well. Highly recommend this emotionally moving experience."
Boundaries and Balance Participant
"Horses provide a safe space and comforting presence free of judgement. For members of the queer community that are often met with judgement and have to fight to be accepted on their own terms, horses allow each person to exist and be appreciated just as individuals. Horses are a perfect mirror for people learning to craft relationships with others as well as those focusing on their own individual journey."
Member of the LGTBQ community
"I have been coming out here to the farm for about three years. All started when I turned sixty as I had decided to try something that I had never done before which was to ride horses. One of my clients, who had a developmental disability, had great success riding horses here and her mother recommended Body N Soul to me. So I tried and ended up riding out at the farm for a couple of years, and it has been really fun. Then Nature Heals was formed and I started coming to the women's group called Boundaries and Balance.
It has filled a whole other need in my life. I love to hear the ladies share their experiences and how much they have come to trust the horses and how therapeutic the whole experience is. When asked, I was happy to become a board member of Nature Heals.
I deeply believe in the mission of this organization and I will be trying my hardest to see it succeed in any way I can."
Nature Heals Board Member