Healing is a Journey

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Photo: Jill Beatty

By Jill Beatty

Situated in a quiet, rustic area in Waimea on the island of Hawaiʻi, Liliʻuokalani Trust is slated to open a facility aimed at healing and growth for the most vulnerable Hawaiian children. The LT Ranch will provide experiential activities focused on strengthening connections to the self via three core pathways: Animals, Art, and ʻĀina.

Each of the core pathways centers around healing.

In the ʻĀina pathway, youth will learn to care for the land and plants, go on huakaʻi to special places, learn moʻolelo of the region, and build a relationship between kānaka, Akua, and ʻāina. Additionally, a primary focus is on health and nutrition, such as how to cook farm-to-table meals.

Photo: Horses graze at LT Ranch
Dunny and Baby, who live at the LT Ranch, enjoy breakfast together. – Photo: Courtesy

The Animals pathway emphasizes the special connection between humans and animals. With animals such as horses, pigs, cattle, goats, and more on the farm LT Ranch will provide opportunities for youth to interact with animals, thus building capacity around empathy, self-reflection, emotional regulation, and connections with the self.

Finally, the Art pathway will introduce youth to a variety of art mediums such as pottery, woodworking, painting, music, dance, and more. Youth will learn ways to express themselves from local artists with an emphasis on Native Hawaiian art practices.

LT Ranch will offer residential programs, day camps, and after-school programs for Hawaiian youth who would benefit from an intensive program in a peaceful environment, particularly those engaged in the state’s child welfare and juvenile justice systems, who are chronically truant, struggling academically, or have experienced significant trauma.

As a result of adverse childhood experiences, many of these ʻōpio are disconnected, disengaged, and highly discouraged by their prospects in life. LT Ranch recognizes the need to reverse this trend. In line with LT’s Strategic Vision 2045 Wehe Ke Ala, LT Ranch will support Native Hawaiian youth to strengthen their spiritual, emotional, and cultural identity through opportunities to heal and explore their inherent potential – E Nā Kamalei Lupalupa!

Through nature-based programming connecting ʻōpio to animals, the land, and creative expression through arts, ʻōpio will better understand their inherent potential and mana. The philosophy of LT Ranch is that healing is a journey, not a destination.

Jill Beatty has been a social worker with Liliʻuokalani Trust for 16 years. Growing up on a ranch on Hawaiʻi Island greatly influenced her love for animals and nature. She believes that the potential to experience deep healing is best found in the presence of trusted individuals and the natural intelligence of horses, other animals, and the natural world.