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Ben’s Ranch Foundation partners with Hamilton County Parks to expand youth mental health services

Koteewi Horses.jpg
Posted at 10:17 PM, Jan 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-02 09:41:55-05

This year, a non-profit that helps Central Indiana teens struggling with their mental help is taking a big step forward.

Ben's Ranch Foundation is now partnering with Hamilton County Parks by managing and operating Koteewi Equine Experience in Noblesville.

"We not only gain more capacity to bring in interns and small groups, but we have a very visible physical example of what we do at farms that you visited with us decentralized all throughout Central Indiana," Brose McVey, Ben's Ranch Foundation's Executive Director tells WRTV's Nicole Griffin.

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By taking over the trail rides for the public at Koteewi, McVey says the kids they serve will get to see the business side of things, interact with customers, and take care of the horses as well as the facility.

"To be able to control the facility with this mission in mind, we can use our time very efficiently to put through as many young people into our programs here as possible," McVey said.

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McVey saw the impact working with horses had on his own son, Ben.

"It was so good for him it sort of reset his life," McVey said.

Ben battled bipolar disorder for 10 years. McVey says the only thing that changed his son's life for the better was an 18 month stay in Wyoming, working with horses.

"So the minute we lost him, we knew that experience was so powerful. We kind of wanted to bottle it for other kids," McVey said.

Ben died at just 24-years-old from an accidental fentanyl overdose.

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Now, in his memory, the Ben's Ranch Foundation is helping teenagers ages 14 to 18 struggling with their mental health.

"We're already talking to a lot of schools in the area, and they need help as you know, dealing with this mental health crisis. So we hope this can be a convenient location for some of the neighboring schools as well so should be a great step forward for us," McVey said. 

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McVey said taking the next step to help even more kids in memory of his son is a validation in a lot of ways. 

"It all makes the hard work feel a little bit better. Very proud of it, very excited for the future and I know it's in keeping with Ben's quiet spirit, humility, love of animals and so it's a great continued testament to his spirit as well," McVey said.

Ben's Ranch interns are already working at Koteewi. Small group programming will launch in the coming weeks and the public can take rides at the park which will directly benefit the young people the organization serves.