Posted: Oct 17, 2017 7:45 PM MDT Updated: Oct 18, 2017 7:55 AM MDT
DILLON – “Go! Go, Bobby. Play, play, play your instrument, play, play, play,” Bethany Venekamp, Musical Therapist, sings to her class.
Music is more than just fun. At Parkview Elementary, Bethany says music has scientific qualities that are good for therapy.
“Music is organized, it’s structured, it’s predictable and that quality of music makes it a really special medium to work and train or reteach the brain,” Venekamp said.
For a year now, Bethany has been working with special needs students using musical therapy that includes drumming and singing songs.
“I try to pick songs that they know, we call it piggybacking, so we maybe take the chorus and the melody, but we adjust some of the lines to what we’re going to work on,” Venekamp said.
“We love it,” said Special Ed Teacher Beth Pavalis. “When she first came in I asked if she could come every day, it’s just the beautiful little time in our week that we all look forward to.”
Most people use musical instruments for entertainment, but Bethany used them for learning. She can get the students to follow along and stop, or use a rattle to help them learn rhythm and this is all done so they can develop social skills.
“These kids are learning to follow direction because they need to know that skill in class and in life and so just working on stop, start, play up high, play down low, just simple directives that I’m giving them,” Venekamp said.
Teachers say this therapy has made a difference for the nine special needs students at the school.
“The kids really tune in and engage and follow directions a lot better and more effectively when music is involved,” Pavalis said.
Venekamp added: “So our sessions when we started were like 15, 20 minutes for some of the kids and then they would live or disengage, so the fact that we can have a session that’s almost 40 minutes with independent engagement without needing assistance from their other teachers is huge.”
(Dillon, Mont.) June 15, 2017 – Are you considering becoming a foster care parent? Visit with professionals of Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch to learn initial information on what it is to be a foster parent during the evening of Monday, June 19, from 5:30 – 7 p.m. at Dillon Elementary School District Board Room, located at 22 North Cottom, Dillon, MT 59725.
This is an informational evening for anyone who may be interested in becoming a therapeutic foster parent or who would like to learn more about Therapeutic Foster Care.
Contact Charise Lemelin at firstname.lastname@example.org, Tracey Lujan at email@example.com, or call 406-683-0416 to R.S.V.P. for the event.
The Yellowstone Foundation has partnered with AmazonSmile, an Amazon.com program for nonprofits, to allow shoppers to donate to the Ranch at no added cost!
How does AmazonSmile work?
AmazonSmile will donate .5% of all eligible purchases to the Yellowstone Foundation to support Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch programs.
Performing and singing many current pop songs and hits from the past, kids and staff rocked the stage inside Yellowstone Academy (YA) during this year’s Talent Show on May 26. The auditorium was filled with kids ready to strum, pick, key and hit instruments provided by YA’s music program.
Those who had a knack for acoustic guitar, bongo drums or the keyboard captured the audience’s attention with the vibrant sound of live music. Most of the kids sang to voiceless versions of songs from pop singers like Ariana Grande, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift and country songs like those by Sam Hunt, Blake Shelton and more. During the best composed performances and the most well-known songs, kids cheered and stood, swaying to the tempo. Many staff jumped in, including lodge workers, teachers and the school therapist, showing off strong vocals and musical talents of their own.
Once the performers stepped off stage, they were met with high-fives, and words of praise and encouragement from their peers. Impressed with their friends’ performances and sometimes critical of their own, many of the kids walked away with a newfound confidence or a set of goals to achieve the next level of adjunct instrumentalist or singer superstar.
James Brassil came to YBGR in the early 2000’s as a troublesome kid. At home he’d fought with peers, acting out from anger and frustration.
“I’m not exactly sure as to why I was angry…” Brassil said. “I would say it was mixture of my life at home and school – It just wasn’t a very good fit.”
The only way he knew how to deal with conflict was to fight.
“I fought at school mostly because I didn’t know how to walk away from a problem…” Brassil said. “For me it was easier to just fight and settle things that way.”
But, the Ranch helped him find ease and a sense of purpose.
“Getting out on the farm and having a hard day’s work helped me to clear my mind,” he said. “(It) gave me opportunities to work hard on something that was important.”
The Ranch gave him a chance to see a new perspective.
He said, “It allowed me to prioritize the problems in front of me and realize what I had control over…” And to accept the things that he couldn’t control.
Brassil said that talking to staff and creating new relationships with them helped him see his situation more clearly. Gary Adams, YBGR’s Farm and Ranch Director, was one of those people.
“Speaking to people like Gary helped me to understand what was important in my life at that time,” Brassil said.
Adams said, “James was a kid who just had some anger bottled up. We spent a lot of time together working through those problems by just working hard.”
Now that Brassil is 25, he has much to show for the kind of hard work he’s dedicated himself to. After he left YBGR, Brassil finished high school and enlisted in the Army as an Airborne Infantryman. He served there for three years before being accepted to the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Brassil participated in sports while there, and, in 2016, graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Human Geography.
“Seeing the progress of the farm gave me something to be proud of,” Brassil said.
And he takes the hard work he learned at the Ranch with him as he builds his life and his career, currently, as an officer assigned to the Fourth Infantry Division at Fort Carson (CO).
(Billings, Mont.) May 22, 2017 – Kids from Billings’ Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch took to the dirt and manure on Friday afternoon, learning how to brand cattle like true Montanans. The Ranch’s kids come from around the state and across the nation. Some have never seen a feedlot or cattle operation, but the Ranch’s Farm Director, Gary Adams, showed them how it’s done. Mike Chavers, YBGR’s CEO, as well as residential staff, also jumped in on the action.
“These kids got to face their fears, find their confidence and learn new skills today. I really enjoyed seeing the kids work together and jumping in there with them,” said Chavers.
Close to 15 kids partook in this year’s branding. Inside the fences, they traded turns, learning teamwork on how to grab the calves’ hooves and flanks for a solid heave to the ground. In total, over 50 calves were vaccinated and branded.
“Last year, the girls were running circles around the boys,” said Jeff Seeley, program manager for a residential lodge.
This year, many of the girls jumped right in, while others were shy to the sport. Adams, impressed with all of the kids’ motivation and hard work, applauded them for their efforts and praised them for a job well done.
As the kids dumped a cooler of cold water on each other, Adams said, “I’ll take this work crew anytime.”
Celebrating 60 Years of Leadership and Creating Positive Outcomes for At-Risk Children and Youth in Montana
Save the Date for September 21, 2017, 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch has reached 60 years of working to improve the lives of At-Risk Children and Youth in Montana. As part of our celebration of this legacy of caring, we are hosting a conference focused on improving outcomes for kids and families in Montana. Named The Yellowstone Conference: Kids in Crisis, the event will focus on promoting effective solutions to the problems facing our state’s most vulnerable young people, and provide a forum for mental health practitioners, education staff and law enforcement to exchange ideas – and to celebrate the efforts of those who are on the front lines developing and implementing solutions.
Based upon Georgetown University’s LEAD (Leadership, Evidence, Analysis, Debate) Conference, the conference is designed to be both interactive and informative. During the conference, dedicated and knowledgeable professionals from a variety of governmental and organizations from around Montana will provide insight on the current challenges facing Montana youth, as well as introduce promising practices.
Through a lens of trauma informed practice and a focus on outcome measurement, the conference will provide opportunities to learn and engage on the following topics affecting Montana youth:
- Youth Suicide
- Social Media and Bullying
- Co-Occurring Disorders / Dual Diagnosis
- Funding Challenges and Opportunities
Eric Arzubi, MD, Chair of the Billings Clinic Department of Psychiatry and is President of the Big Sky Regional Council of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry will be providing the keynote address at the end of the day, summarizing the event.
Afterwards, there will be a reception celebrating YBGR’s 60 years of caring.
Fee for conference is $25.00, which includes conference, lunch, and reception.