B Walker Ranch was born when Jeanine Stanley, mother of a son with autism, began working as the Parent Representative for the Martinez School District.
As well as sitting on the Community Advisory Council for Contra Costa County, Jeanine became painfully aware of the sheer number of autistic children coming through the system with little meaningful programming available when they turned 22 years of age. She joined forces with Pamela Hale Mitchell to create the B Walker Ranch, a Day Program for adults with autism. It is their mission to create a ranch that will become a model program to be replicated in other communities, meeting the growing number of people with autism.
The daily tasks of running a ranch offers opportunities for meaningful work and a sense of belonging. Our ranchers will be fully immersed in the responsibilities of running a ranch; learning to care for animals, growing product from seed to harvest, and understanding the process. The activities become the teaching tool and offer therapeutic benefit. Natural consequences will emerge and the next questions will begin to surface. The ranchers’ interest will come forth as they are challenged physically and intellectually through various programming such as Horticulture, Cooking /Nutrition, Animal Therapy, Occupational and Art Therapies. Our trained staff will be sensitive to the capabilities and accomplishment we see coming forth and foster the ranchers’ independence.
We are a green model ranch. Energy saving structures, nontoxic materials and organic farming practices support individuals with autism, who are known to be especially sensitive to chemicals and other toxicities. We offer an environment free from these substances where healthy lifestyles will be encouraged. Whether it is gathering eggs or shoveling manure, our ranchers will feel connected to their toxic-free environment and learn to care for it as their own.
B Walker Ranch is a “model” program that will be on the forefront of teaching others how to take this programming into their communities. As well, we will be a bridge to our community where volunteer opportunities will be expanded. Local colleges will be partnered, as we provide the perfect “training ground” for learning and teaching. Community collaboration is vital as we develop relationships that further the understanding and necessity of providing quality Day programming to individuals who have autism.