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Ben's Ranch expands program to help support more teens with mental health challenges

Operating with Hamilton County Parks
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Koteewi Park Stables.jpg
Posted at 6:59 AM, Feb 23, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-23 06:59:20-05

HAMILTON COUNTY — A non-profit that helps central Indiana teens struggling with mental health challenges took a big step forward.

Ben's Ranch expanded by partnering with Hamilton County Parks to run equine experience Koteewi Stable & Trails which held a ribbon-cutting Thursday.

"Getting them outside and getting them around animals and getting them working and getting out of isolation. It's really pretty powerful,” said Executive Director of Ben’s Ranch Brose McVey.

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Ribbon cutting for new partnership between Ben's Ranch and Hamilton County Parks

McVey started the foundation after the loss of his own son in 2015 who also struggled with mental health challenges.

His goal is for the new partnership with Hamilton County parks to reach more youth like 18-year-old Rip.

"He's found out that he's bipolar in the last few years and it's not uncommon for it to present at these ages. It's a struggle," Heather said.

Rips mom Heather says he’s been in the program at Ben's Ranch for just three months, but she’s already noticed a huge difference.

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Horse "Journey" at Koteewi Stable & Trails

“It’s made an incredible difference in his daily responsiveness and finishing high school,” said Heather. “Being able to have things to look forward to in place that can accept the new changes and work people through them and be supportive is just a phenomenal thing.”

County officials believe that support is crucial for local teens, especially right now.

“We’re seeing you know statistics rising especially after COVID. That statistic around youth mental health struggles is very real,” said Noblesville Mayor Chris Jensen

“People aren’t getting outside and connecting in our natural environment and connecting with the wildlife and so some of those natural barriers,” added Chris Stice, Hamilton County Parks & Rec Director.

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Horse "Noodles" at Koteewi Stable & Trails

These opportunities also preparing young people for the world after school.

“They’re taking care of an animal. They have responsibilities, our interns make money, they get paid, so they learn about jobs and so forth,” explained McVey.

You can learn more about how to get involved with Ben’s Ranch and Hamilton County Parks here.