Mental Health Awareness Day held at Allaire Community Farm

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WALL TOWNSHIP -

Allaire Community Farm gave back to the community Friday with its Mental Health Awareness Day event.

The event is held in order to overcome the stigma that many with mental health issues must face. Children were able to interact with the animals, while their families learned about resources that are available to them if their children have an issue.

Many children were also able to meet Lucky the dog.

“I’ll know immediately when an autistic person is on the property because Lucky will go sit by them. He senses it. It’s amazing,” says farm owner Joann Burney.

After coming to the farm for therapy for years, Dave Havens now works there, almost exclusively with Gracie the cow.

“I like her.  She's calm when I’m around her. She calms me down. She actually makes my day.  I think I make her day,” Havens says.

Mental health experts say that working with animals helps many children dealing with issues.

"There's something about animals offer unjudgemental acceptance. People have a hard time getting through sometimes,” says Chad Majczan with the “Monmouth Cares” program.

Statistics show that one in five children in Monmouth County will be in need of mental health services. There were plenty of groups at Friday’s event, with a simple message: There is help available.

"We want to destigmatize mental health and not have people be ashamed and embarrassed, like they have to hide it,” Burney says.

This was the second year that the farm held the event. About 300 children attended.

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