Edmonton-area ranch offering escape for workers on the front lines of COVID-19 pandemic

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Edmonton-area ranch offering escape for workers on the front lines of COVID-19 pandemic
An acreage in Ardrossan is inviting front-line workers to decompress, enjoy nature and interact with animals. Dreamcatcher Nature Assisted Therapy offers a holistic approach to healing. As Nicole Stillger explains, it's been a popular spot during the pandemic – Jan 17, 2021

Thirty minutes east of Edmonton, stretched across 40 acres of land, you’ll find a ranch called Dreamcatcher Nature-Assisted Therapy.

For the past two decades, it’s been a place for people to find comfort and healing.

“Traditional therapy is not for everybody,” psychologist and Dreamcatcher founder Eileen Bona said.

“This is a different way for people to decompress and relax and come out and learn about themselves and get healthy.”

Dreamcatcher takes a holistic approach to healing and offers a variety of traditional therapies to help everyone from kids to adults.

There are about 40 animals on the ranch — who have been either rescued or donated.

Eileen Bona with some of the animals on her ranch. Nicole Stillger / Global News

When the pandemic hit last spring, Bona opened her space to the public starting the ‘Time on the Land’ program.

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People could walk the acreage’s trails and meet the animals over the fence.

“We were able to offer it three days a week, eight hours a day — and it was full every single day,” Bona explained.

“People are really feeling like it gives them that breath of fresh air they need. It allows them to spend time with their families doing unique things that are safe.”

The facility is now expanding its programming once again — offering front-line workers the chance for some time alone and animal-assisted therapy — for free.

“They’re the ones that are taking their lives in their hands every day,” she said.

“We want to offer a little more to the first responders and front liners because they need to decompress in a different way so this program is called the Rejuvenation program… They’ll be able to go inside the pens with the animals.”

The feedback from visitors has been “so positive,” according to Bona.

“They love the fact that there’s not a lot of people around all the time.”

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She said the new program will run Fridays and starts on Jan 22.

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