“I don’t even want to think about what would have happened if I wouldn’t have come to the Ranch. I would probably be dead.”
This quote comes from Adam, one of the six high school seniors who graduated last week from Dakota Memorial School, the on-campus school of Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. These six young men and women had been called “stupid,” “unteachable,” “unruly,” and “troublemakers,” at every school they attended before arriving at Dakota Memorial School.
At the Ranch, they learned new words and phrases to describe themselves — “hardworking,” “doesn’t give up,” “mentor for the younger children,” and “straight A student.” They found people who believed in them and pushed them to do their very best. They experienced, most for the first time, the satisfaction and joy that comes from earning something through hard work and determination.
One of our graduates, a lovely young woman who loves to read and draw, said, “I would like to thank the Boys and Girls Ranch for taking me in and allowing me to graduate. In the [time] I’ve been here, I have seen a change in myself. The Ranch has helped me to grow up quickly. I truly with all my heart appreciate everyone in this school. If it weren’t for here, I fear I wouldn’t be able to graduate.”
Children who come to the Ranch are deeply wounded. They have suffered unimaginable traumas or have mental health issues that make them believe they are not good enough, that they are unworthy of anyone’s love, that life is not worth living. At the Ranch, teachers and program staff recognize the unique challenges of every student, encourage them, and inspire them to discover what they can be.
With the right people surrounding them, and in the right environment, even a deeply wounded boy or girl can achieve academic success.
Because children can be successful at Dakota Memorial School, and there are so many on the waiting list, DMS is expanding to accept more middle school students in fall 2019! We are so excited to give more young men and women the chance to experience true success — to open doors and end the cycle of generational poverty, addiction and despair.
But, we need your help.
We have hired a new middle school teacher and will rearrange offices and spaces over the summer to make room for a new group of middle school students. DMS started incorporating Balanced Learning Environments into classrooms in 2015 and through generous donations from individuals and churches has been able to equip all classrooms with specialized workstations, special lighting and sensory equipment. When added to a group of professionals with a great deal of expertise and compassion, these special classrooms help kids feel safe, prime their brains for learning, self-regulate their emotions and behaviors, and stay physically present and mentally engaged in the classroom. Partner with us in prayer and ministry to outfit these special classrooms, you can share the power of hope with even more middle school children and their families. For additional details regarding these specific needs, please visit: Balanced Learning Environments.
We hope you can join us in helping these young trauma survivors discover their best selves. Balanced Learning Environments provide a calming environment for an anxious child, a structured environment for a child who craves routine, and a safe and welcoming space for a child who is used to being pushed aside. This provides hope, healing, and the chance at a bright future.
The most important thing we can ask is for your prayers.
Thank you for your partnership with Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. We are blessed to have the North American Lutheran Church on our team!
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch is a NALC Recognized Ministry. You can learn more or partner with their work at dakotaranch.org.