Oakdale’s Sanchez Farms, just off 28-Mile Road, opened up its barn doors … and its heart to some special people on Saturday.
The Society for disABILITIES gathered there for its annual Day on the Farm on June 16, hosted by the husband and wife team of Jim and Patti Sanchez.
“We’ve been doing this for seven or eight years,” said Jim. “The kids just have a good time and it’s good for the whole family. We take hayrides, we teach them how to plant in the garden, they get to ride horses.”
The goal of the day is to allow kids and ‘kids at heart’ to take part in a variety of events they normally would not be able to enjoy – those served by the Society have such diverse abilities as autism and down syndrome. Family members are also encouraged to come and take part, often giving siblings the chance to enjoy activities together.
Photo opportunities with farm equipment, a petting zoo, the chance to feed animals, face painting and more was on the schedule.
“We had sheep, goats, rabbits, chicken and the dogs were running around, they love to pet them,” Jim Sanchez added.
Charlie Wilkins, 13, of Ripon enjoyed getting a young horse to take a carrot out of his hand while 11-year-old Shamus Byrne of Modesto joyfully petted a rabbit held by volunteer Amanda Westberg.
Executive Director Marci Boucher said the day is one that everyone involved with the Society looks forward to, and she thanked both Sanchez Farms and the Oakdale Lions Club – which served up lunch – for their efforts on behalf of the visitors.
“We love doing this and it’s not only the kids but we involve the whole family,” Boucher said. We had 300-plus people here and it takes 60 or so volunteers to put it on … it’s just a fun family day.”
Kids got special T-shirts and cowboy hats and everyone seemed to go away with a smile on their face, said Boucher, along with the event helping to build self-confidence among those they serve.
Eight-year-old Joseph Mayoral of Modesto said “the hayride” was his favorite part, while mom Margaret said this was the family’s first time at the event …but it won’t be the last.
“There was something for everybody,” she said. “These kids, most of them don’t have an opportunity to ride a horse or get up close to animals and be a on a farm … the whole family came and it was just fun, such a great opportunity. We look forward to next year.”
The Society for DisABILITIES was formed in 1947 and offers recreational, educational and social programs. More information is available at their website, societyfordisabilities.org
“It’s magical to watch their reactions and it always brings a smile to their faces,” said Program Coordinator, Channa Kang. “We’ve seen some of these kids smile or speak for the first time, while enjoying a fun filled day on a working farm.”