Lakemary School and Psychiatric Residential Treatment Center

This 2015 Microgrant is helping deserving kids learn farming skills.

Jayme and Dustin outside chicken coopSchool Principal Amanda Martell had a longtime dream. She wanted to add a small working farm to the fully accredited Lakemary School so the kids can learn about animals and their care. A 2015 KCP&L Microgrant funded the first step. It underwrote an insulated chicken coop with roosts and nesting boxes, feeders, a covered outdoor run and a small learning area for the kids. The coop is now home to three docile hens and three young chicks. 

Principal Martell raised the chicks in her basement—with her own children’s help—until they were strong enough to move to the new coop. “The flock will grow, and we plan to soon add an outdoor free-range grazing area for them,” Sally Beyers, vice president of philanthropy for Lakemary School and Psychiatric Residential Treatment Center.

“Lakemary serves approximately 100 kids at any given time, year round,” she explained. “60 percent of them live here, and the rest are day students. All of them have some kind of intellectual or developmental disability. Many have also experienced abuse, neglect or other significant trauma. And nearly every single one of them loves the chickens.

“Our KCP&L Microgrant brought a surprise dividend,” Beyers added. “The first gift is always the hardest to get. Once we received the initial grant from KCP&L, other donors stepped forward to pledge their support. It was wonderful.”

B.E.S.T for the kids

The eggs from the hens are used in Lakemary’s B.E.S.T. (Building Essentials for Successful Transitions) classroom. B.E.S.T. teaches skills the kids will need to eventually live more independently─ from the value of healthy eating, meal planning and preparation, budgeting, and handling laundry─to grocery shopping, personal hygiene, and more,” Beyers explained.

What they learn may even help them earn a living someday. But long before that, it will give them confidence and pride. “I never thought a dream this big could come out of my head,” said one of the students, when he learned the chickens were coming. “I can hardly wait to scoop their poop!” 

Clearly, Lakemary’s students are prepared for all aspects of chicken care. A+, Lakemary!

Learn more about our Microgrant program and Lakemary School and Psychiatric Residential Treatment Center.