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'TRAK' overcomes pandemic to help others heal

Posted at 3:15 PM, Aug 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-16 19:44:19-04

TUCSON, Ariz. -- As school districts across the country prepare to go back to school, small businesses that rely on child visitors are watching closely.

Folks at the Therapeutic Ranch for Animals and Kids (TRAK) say creativity has been a key component in navigating the uncertain waters of the pandemic.

Development Director at TRAK Melinda Sharma says when the pandemic hit, they were operating at about 20% capacity.

So, it’s safe to say, there’s no time for horsing around at the ranch.

Nowadays, it’s all about work and safe fun.

”At first we had a lot of cancellations. People were scared and rightfully so,” she told KGUN9.

While their events were canceled for the year, they felt they had to stay open.

“Our mission is strengthening kids and community through animal interaction, but our focus is with everybody--up to the elders,” Sharma said.

Seeing an increased need for emotional and mental health, they began by opening up a camp for essential workers.

“And so we have been running a camp to help everybody who is a front-line worker have child care. We still have parties. We’re keeping them at a limit of 10. Our camps were downsized this year but they still sold out,” she added.

They’re even doing a camp for kids who are learning from home.

“The kids with disabilities have really suffered. Their whole schedule, their structure, everything collapsed. The parties that were planned, they just saw everything disintegrate in a matter of days and we have to be here for those people,” Sharma told KGUN9.

So the activities continue--outside.

Temperatures are taken before people are allowed to touch animals, masks are a requirement, and social distancing is enforced.

These actions are taken to keep people employed at the ranch, all while helping others heal.

“We’re determined that we’re going to help people. It’s a lot that's been placed on the families and we want to be here to strengthen them,” she told KGUN9.

For more information about TRAK, click here.