Ardmore, which works with people with disabilities, is harboring some hens who need your help. As part of the agency’s push to offer job training and placement services to its clients, many of whom have autism, Ardmore has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help its chickens get through their first year.
The campaign seeks $1,200 for food, bedding and chicken coop repairs for its 24 chickens, but the hens will eventually be self-sustaining, offering healthy eggs to the agency’s group homes throughout Summit County. Employees at Ardmore’s Tallmadge Day Center decided that chickens would be a fun activity for clients, along with helping them build interpersonal and job skills.
“We found that the chickens actually spark a lot of conversation with our clients,” says Brittany Kunda, vocational coordinator for Ardmore Inc.’s Bridges Day program, which is helping people with disabilities find employment in the community. The on-site hens also will help provide two part-time jobs for Ardmore’s clients.
(Click HERE to go to the Kickstarter page)
Typically social interaction among Ardmore’s clients is difficult, but these hens have helped them come out of their shell, says Kunda, who launched the campaign with Laura Gerlich, Bridges director. Kunda has been instrumental in the hens’ care, to the point of donating supplies for the shed/chicken coop herself.
She adds that she and Gerlich became intrigued with the idea of homesteading, or self-sufficient living. “When we introduced the chickens and the hens, everyone got very excited,” she adds. “They come up with a variety of names and stories about the hens.”
The Kickstarter funds will help the chickens get their business model off the ground for the next year. If enough money is raised, the agency also hopes to install a solar panel system, which could provide energy for heating the chickens’ water buckets in the winter and powering cooling fans during the warmer months.
Kunda says having the chickens on site helps the clients in a number of unexpected ways. For example, one young man faces problems with his anger, but employees found that the hens help him relax.
“He would sit by the outdoor run and you could see a calm relief wash over them,” she says. “He felt like he could come back in the building and have a little better day for the rest of the day.”
Kunda has done a lot of research, learning about household tips for chicken care, like how a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or a garlic clove in their drinking water could help with worm preventative.
“We know where the eggs are coming from and that the individuals will have healthy meals,” says Kunda. “This will give them a little kickstart until they can sustain themselves.”
Along with the hens, Ardmore also has started a greenhouse, which the agency hopes will eventually provide fresh vegetables in the same manner of distribution as the eggs.
More information, fundraising events, and other contact information is available at www.ardmoreinc.org. Watch the agency’s Kickstarter video below.