How we came up with this idea:
Our family began asking the question, “What will happen to Ben Walker when we, his parents, pass on?” His siblings and other family members have pondered this same question. Who will take care of Ben like his parents do? Does a program exist that can provide the type of care required for Ben and thousands like him? It is questions like these that keep parents awake at night.
The family business of commercial farming could be our answer for the future of meeting the need for meaningful Day programming for those like Ben. With a well trained staff, my son like many others can become a contribution to their communities by utilizing their strengths. Farming allows room to move, space to better handle odd behavior in an accountable yet adaptable environment. A ranch that will be free from prejudice and judgment, a place of acceptance and learning within ones own pace. A ranch where problems and solutions will show up organically. Everyday tasks such as, getting the wheelbarrow unstuck or gathering the chickens become the natural teaching tool.
92% of people with autism are under the age of 18 and programming needs are limited. A good program that works with the individual’s potential is scarce; as they are expected to adapt to the programs expectations. B Walker Ranch would take a different approach and teach to the participants capabilities, a unique attribute of a working ranch. Some will plant, some will weed, some will organize and label. The idea is that more opportunities will create more possibilities for the client.
Ben my son, has many strengths. He is capable of working small machinery with supervision and direction. He is able to follow clear instruction, and he is easily motivated to try new endeavors. He often sits listening to his ipod during his current Day program. This is an outrage to parents that have spent countless sums of money on education and behavioral therapies. “There needs to be better options for our young adults. B Walker Ranch will address these needs”.
My business partner, Pamela Hale Mitchell, has a similar story about growing up with little or no adaptable programming for her brother. Roger has many talents and many strengths; and if given the opportunity to reach his potential, he could move mountains. What has gotten in the way is the limited access to good programming. If a good program could be found, the standard of the individuals’ behavior is usually set too high. They are individuals with unique behaviors that need to be recognized and embraced. Programs need to be adaptable and offer choices. This will allow clients to find their capabilities and follow their interests, and families will feel more confident that a good fit is found for their loved ones.
Pamela has aligned her passions to this cause of creating quality Day Programming for adults with autism. She brings 25 years of entrepreneurial experience, and has been a successful Real Estate Agent, an athlete and a mother. She is dedicated to creating a business that inspires people to give their time and money to better the everyday lives of this special needs population. I am privileged to have her co-create with me and look forward to the day we officially open B Walker Ranch and begin helping these individuals with autism find meaning and purpose in their lives.