Lil’ Steps Wellness Farm: Supporting Youth’s Mental Health

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Since its opening seven years ago, Lil’ Steps Wellness Farm, located in St. Malo, has a great mission: to improve and prevent the mental health challenges of youth, especially through animal-assisted therapy. With a brand-new centre, more services offered and increased capacity, even more children will be able to flourish and enjoy this unique place. 

A farm and animals to improve the mental health of young children and teenagers

Already located in St. Malo, Lil’ Steps Wellness Farm inaugurated a new building on August 25, 2022, larger this time. Lucy Sloan, Founder and Director of Programs: “It’s very exciting! We recently expanded our services with a brand-new facility to have more capacity to work with more children. There are offices for our therapists and a room for group activities. “ 

 Lucy Sloan recalls the purpose of this very special place. “Our goal is essentially to help improve the well-being and mental health of youth, children and adolescents. Just working with children and animals is already extraordinary. I think it’s important and necessary to acquire mental health skills and knowledge from an early age. This is our primary prevention mission. “ 

At Lil’ Steps Wellness Farm, animals are the main characters. There are mostly horses, but also sheep, goats, rabbits, geese, rats, pigs, dogs, and cats. They are all so important, that they are not considered as tools, but as co-workers, explains Lucy Sloan. “Goats and sheep are great for learning about anxiety. We do a lot of storytelling with our own animals. It is a way of practising therapy with children. Through these stories about our animals, they are taught different skills and competencies, and children can also get to know each other better. “ 

Children’s books to understand emotions

In fact, Lucy Sloan turned some of these stories into books. “I created and shared so many stories with the children that I wanted to have few in writing,” says the author. They are inspired by real moments. For example, one day I was talking with a little girl who was being bullied at school. We talked about the duck, which can be mean at times, and tried to figure out why. We understood that this is because the duck may be sad. “ 

 This story brought Lucy Sloan’s next book to life: The Duck That Is Mean Sometimes, which will be released soon. These children’s books, which are available on the Lil’ Steps Wellness Farm website, can help understand emotions such as grief, anxiety, but also tools such as mindfulness. “Sometimes children get scared of big emotions, it surprises them. Through these stories, they can understand and put things in context.” 


Cindy and Cristabelle’s Big Scare in French, as well as other upcoming publications

 Among its children’s books, Lil’ Steps Wellness Farm offers a copy in French: La grande peur de Cindy et Cristabelle, the very first book written by Lucy Sloan. It is the story of two little goats who faint due to their fears. This book allows you to learn about anxiety. There is also an activity book.  

Lucy Sloan: “Joanne Larivière, the co-author of the activity booklet, helped bring a Francophone perspective. We received funding to be able to do the translation work. We work very hard to ensure that our books are translated in French. We now have our entire animation guide for teachers and schools in French.  There are not many programs like ours that are offered in French, and we hope to be able to develop more. “ 

While waiting to see more published books and programs see the light of day, Lil’ Steps Wellness Farm hopes to develop other partnerships within the framework of its Foundation, always with the aim of being able to help more and more youth in their well-being.