• Horses help kids recover from adverse childhood experiences

    ChildWithHorseBackToCamera1Baylie is eight years old. Born to a mother addicted to cocaine and an alcoholic father, removed from her parents at six months and covered with bruises and cigarette burns, Baylie (not her real name) has spent her childhood shuffled from one foster home to another. She rarely speaks, makes little eye contact with adults, shows no interest in playing with kids her age, and recoils from any attempt at physical affection.

    Baylie’s ability to connect with anyone, or anything, seemed impossible until the day she met a horse named Steady.

    Baylie is very lucky. Her court-appointed therapist has found a way to combine her own love of horses with the rapidly evolving field of equine-assisted psychotherapy.

    Once a week Baylie goes to the stables, holds out an apple for Steady to nibble from her hand, pats, brushes and talks quietly to him about the things she does not want anyone else to hear.

    For children like Baylie who have never been able to trust people, a horse can become a beacon of light in an otherwise dark world. Suddenly something big and powerful leans in, nuzzles you and looks you right in the eye. There is nothing to fear; this animal will not leave you, he will not betray you. With a trained equine-assisted therapist, a child like Baylie can be gradually introduced to forming a relationship with the horse. This ability to bond, perhaps for the first time in her young life, will then hopefully expand, allowing her to trust and connect with the wider world and to the people who exist within it.

    This February, 25 experts from as far away as Finland will arrive at Saguaro Lake Ranch, a 1940s dude

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  • ‘Invisible Scars’ trailer out; documentary is story of healing journey from child sex abuse

    Johnna Janis’s documentary about her experiences with child sex abuse and other childhood adversity will be out next year, when she’ll be taking it to film festivals before distributing it.

    Although the beginning focus of her story is child sex abuse, it unwinds with many other issues that emerged from her childhood adversity. With Dr. Vincent Felitti, co-founder of the CDC-Kaiser Adverse Childhood Experiences Study,  watching, she does her ACE score (a 9, out of 10), and then interviews him. 
    As Janis notes: “This will be a great tool for people to see firsthand what happens to someone who has experienced trauma, and what steps can be taken to move towards healing. Great insight, excellent experts, and above all….room for prevention and education.”
    Janis co-produced Invisible Scars with Sergio Myers, who directed the documentary. He is an award-winning director/producer who has been a good friend of Janis’ for almost 10 years. He is also a survivor of multiple ACEs, says Janis, and healed tremendously during the making of the documentary.
    Janis said she brought him on board because of his background in film and television, and also so that he could use his own personal experiences to help shape the narrative of the documentary. They both share the desire to help others heal and grow.
    “He was actually part of my educational journey,” says Janis. “According to my director, this film (in making it with me) has given him a voice to be able to talk about his past without having to publicly announce it, per se.”