Sunrise Springs is home to some of the sweetest, softest chickens you’ll meet. Spend a few minutes with them and you will quickly melt listening to their soft coos, hysterical cackles and gentle purrs as they snuggle in close. Yet without fail, before settling into class, people will often ask “why chickens?”
Unlike cats and dogs which everyone has snuggled at one point or another, chickens challenge us to dig a little deeper and shift the way we perceive sentience and communication.
Believe it or not, chickens are finding an increasingly wide audience in the therapeutic world. In 2012 a group called Equal Arts launched HenPower in England. This program brings a hen house and hens into senior living homes and provides training for the seniors on how to care for the chickens. Participants are also able to collect and cook with the hen’s eggs.
A study by the University of Northumbria found that seniors who participate in the HenPower programs are less lonely and depressed. They also found that they have an increased sense of well-being. Male participants have been shown to have particular benefits from the program as it helps them socialize more.
Seniors aren’t the only ones benefitting from time spent with chickens. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders have also been shown to benefit from chicken interactions. While children with this disorder can struggle to connect with other people, they can often practice skills like playing and verbal communication with their chickens.
Regardless of where you are on your own life path, animal interactions have been shown to help lower stress and anxiety levels while helping to increase communication skills and sense of interconnectedness.
As the number of animal assisted interactive programs increase we are all likely to hear more about the amazing ways chickens are able to get use to slow down, tune in, and connect us with ourselves and others.
So why chickens? Why not come find out for yourself!
Danielle Simmons, Horticulture and Animal Interactions
Inspired by her childhood experience of play in the forests of upstate New York, Danielle has devoted her career to connecting human wellness with a deeper engagement to the natural world. Danielle planted and manages the greenhouse and the garden beds at Sunrise. She enjoys teaching guests the many uses of herbs, from first aid to making herbal teas and salves. When she is not being inspired by the big trees and abundant water at Sunrise, she is enjoying time with her family and their organic garden, which they tend on their homestead south of Santa Fe.