Arkansas Sheriffs' Youth Ranches Celebrate 30 Years - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Independence County, AR -- Brandi Hodges Reports

Arkansas Sheriffs' Youth Ranches Celebrate 30 Years

April 22, 2006- Posted at 5:05 p.m. CST


The Arkansas Sheriff's Youth Ranch inBethesda is home to more than 80 young people from the area.


The ranch serves as more than just a refuge, it also serves as a home.


This year the ranch is celebrating 30 years.  CEO Mike Cumnock says the organization has helped many kids throughout the years.


“We’re a long-term residential facility.  Our average length of stay is probably four and a half, to five years,” said Cumnock.


The youth who come to live at the ranch don't have any where else to go.  In many cases, they are children who have been removed from their homes.


“It’s not unusual for us to have 25% of the kids living on the ranch who were kids that were the products of failed adoptions,” said Cumnock.


Many of the kids who come to live on the ranch come from homes where they didn't receive the type of treatment they needed while growing up.


“The idea is to do medical care for them.  We take them to the dentist, get good dental care.  We get them started in public school,” said Cumnock.


When many of the kids come to the ranch they are behind in school.  Staff members and other ranchers offer tutoring to help them catch up.    


There are many activities available on the ranch that help build character.


One of those activities is horse back riding, which is led by volunteer David Ward.


“It’s a confidence builder that allows the kids to work one-on-one with an animal.  The animal learns to respond to them, and they respond to the animal, and it builds a large amount of trust,” said Ward.


Trust that many of these kids don't willingly give.  Working with the horses also gives the ranchers a sense of responsibility.


“A lot of things that we have in life that are worthwhile take a lot of work, but, they’re very rewarding at the same time.  I think that’s what the horses have to teach them,” said Ward.


The Arkansas Sheriff’s Youth Ranch is a non-profit organization that works to provide homes to children who desperately need one.


For more information on the ranch log onto their website.


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