Kid Stories

Cameron: A Walking Miracle

Cameron: A Walking Miracle

In fourth grade, Cameron started having attention issues. By fifth grade, anything associated with school caused Cameron to experience extreme anxiety. Most days he refused to go. Then he started having wild and out-of-control behaviors.…

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A Future He Never Imagined

A Future He Never Imagined

Now, in his second time at the Ranch, Jeremiah wants the help he needs. "I want to get stuff done. I want to be able to communicate efficiently and to have friends, good friends. My therapists at the Ranch are really helping me with those things. They are helping me with pretty much anything you can name that a young adult needs to live independently." In therapy, Jeremiah has learned to talk through his uncomfortable feelings and emotions. "I think the only way to go forward is to be uncomfortable when you're talking about something. If you stop talking every time you're uncomfortable, it's not going to help you. You have to just sit there and cry and work through things." While at the Ranch, Jeremiah also developed coping skills, learned how to interact with other people, and worked hard to repair and rebuild relationships with his parents.…

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Jesus—the answer to everything: Young Ranch resident turns abuse and abandonment into authentic joy

Jesus—the answer to everything: Young Ranch resident turns abuse and abandonment into authentic joy

Sierra, a 16-year-old on our Minot campus, recently shared her story with other residents during Ranch Life (a twice-monthly event where Ranch kids hear inspirational speakers or participate in a service project). While she talked about her childhood as one of abuse, abandonment, and rejection, she focused on joy and Jesus. She wanted the other residents to know they don't have to be defined by their past.…

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Second Time Around

Second Time Around

Ariel is at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch for the second time. Her first time at the Ranch was as a resident, and now she is back as an employee, working with kids who struggle with many of the same challenges as she did.…

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Caught at a Crossroads: Two People, One Story

Caught at a Crossroads: Two People, One Story

Samantha wants Ranch donors to know how grateful she is for the held she received at the Ranch. "Not everyone comes out successfully, but most do, and they're very grateful for the help they get," she said. "People who donate [to the Ranch] really want to help these children and teens. They want them to know they are cared for and they want them to get better."…

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Courageous, self-aware, and determined: A young woman finds hope and healing at the Ranch

Courageous, self-aware, and determined: A young woman finds hope and healing at the Ranch

Dionna is one of the rare residents who asked to come to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. After two suicide attempts and a stay at the Child and Adolescent Partial Hospitalization Program (CAPH) in Minot, Dionna decided it was time to focus on herself. It is difficult to find the courage and self-awareness to ask for help when all seems hopeless. It is even more remarkable to see that courage in a child. At age 17, with the support of her forever parents, who lovingly adopted Dionna and her brothers, Dionna came to the doors of the Ranch to, "try to get better."…

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More Than Her Broken Past: Young woman moves from victim to survivor to advocate

More Than Her Broken Past: Young woman moves from victim to survivor to advocate

One absent mother. One abusive father struggling with addiction. Five stepmothers. 29 schools. 12 states. Six foster homes. Countless hospital and treatment facility stays. You'd think all of that would add up to an angry and defiant young woman. And, in many ways, you'd be right. Brooklynn is angry. She is angry people treated her the way they did, especially the very people who were supposed to love and protect her.…

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From the North Dakota Plains to Scotland: Aaron's Long and Winding Road

From the North Dakota Plains to Scotland: Aaron's Long and Winding Road

Last spring, Aaron Waldron responded to a Ranch social media requesting asking people to send Easter messages for our kids. On the form he completed, Aaron listed his address as Scotland. We were super excited to hear from someone in Scotland who cared about our kids. And, even more excited to hear Aaron had lived at the Ranch in the late 1980s. He was very grateful for the care he received and wanted to share his story in the hopes it would encourage others to seek help for their children. Here is Aaron's story.…

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Finally Family: One Young Man's Journey to Find Love and Acceptance

Finally Family: One Young Man's Journey to Find Love and Acceptance

Mannie was just an infant when his parents dropped him off at a family friend's and didn't come back. Mannie, now age 16 and wise beyond his years, says matter-of-factly, "They weren't ready, or didn't have the proper parenting to take care of me." No anger. No resentment. Just calm acceptance of his reality. But it hasn't always been that way.…

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After the "Honeymoon"

After the "Honeymoon"

When you meet Emily today, the first things you'll notice are her wonderful smile and contagious laugh. A very different young woman than the one who walked into Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch—who at that time didn't crack a smile, speak, or look up from the ground.…

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Avoiding Hurt By Not Accepting Love: Aliyah's Journey to Acceptance

Avoiding Hurt By Not Accepting Love: Aliyah's Journey to Acceptance

Aliyah Beyer didn't need help. Yes, severe anxiety and depression made her life hard. So hard she couldn't get out of bed some days. But still—she could handle it on her own. She was used to taking care of things herself. And she was used to being alone, despite growing up in an adoptive family with ten children. For as long as she can remember, Aliyah has wanted nothing more than to fit in and belong.…

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A Really Good Day

A Really Good Day

A few weeks ago, I was at my desk when I heard a familiar voice in the lobby. "Look! I'm being adopted!" As I came around the corner to confirm my suspicions, a handsome boy came running at me with arms outstretched for a hug. "Joy, did you hear? I'm being adopted!"…

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Resilience, Courage, and Success

Resilience, Courage, and Success

Elizabeth Muralt is on a mission. Her mission is to share her story with children in the foster care system and to advocate for policy change that helps foster care youth live more normal lives. "I want kids in foster care to know they can be successful despite their circumstances. That they can turn negative experiences into positive ones," Elizabeth said. "I couldn't imagine a successful future because I had never seen a successful person who grew up in the foster care system. I didn't know success was attainable for me."…

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Meaningful Memories at Medora

Meaningful Memories at Medora

Last summer, three Ranch residents, Courtney, Sierra, and Megan, traveled to Medora with Amber Benham, Horse Program Coordinator, to hike and look for wild horses. The idea for the trip started when the girls were at the horse barn, talking about how they'd love to see wild horses. Amber told them about the wild horses in Medora, and when she learned none of them had been there, she planned the trip. The special outing celebrated the progress the three girls had made at the Ranch, rewarded them for work they did around the horse barn over the summer, and served as a last hurrah for Courtney, who was discharging at the end of the week.…

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A Child's Expression of Empathy Through Art

A Child's Expression of Empathy Through Art

Empathy, "the ability to understand and share the feelings of another," is hard. It is truly difficult to stand in another person's shoes and see life from their perspective. We all spend most of our time seeing the world from our own vantage point. It is even harder for Ranch kids.…

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Ranch "Girlz" Take on Tech

Ranch "Girlz" Take on Tech

Five young women from Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch attended DigiGirlz, a high-tech camp hosted by Microsoft that gives middle and high school girls an in-depth look at careers in technology.…

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Remember the Children at the Ranch

Remember the Children at the Ranch

Last week we celebrated Thanksgiving AND it was also National Family Week! Boy, those two go together perfectly don't they? Family is the basic unit of any society. The people who accept us, support us, challenge us, and love us unconditionally are the people who shape our view of the world. Whether by birth or by choice, those we call family create the context in which we live our lives.…

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"I Am Grateful for Life."

"I Am Grateful for Life."

I have a glass bottle in my office that was a gift from a treasured friend. Written on the brown glass is "take a moment to acknowledge something you are grateful for." I also have a little stack of paper slips. Whenever someone asks me about the bottle, I encourage them to write down something they are thankful for and push the paper through the narrow neck of the bottle to "join" the other notes of gratitude. The simple act of stopping to think about the gifts we have been given can brighten a whole day.…

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GROWing Plants, Giving Grants, and Building Confidence

GROWing Plants, Giving Grants, and Building Confidence

The GROW (God Rewards Our Work) Garden Sale began this year and is already proving to be a success. A spinoff of the event previously known as BLT Day, GROW was organized and implemented by Ranch kids. The idea was to hold a one-day garden sale in the Minot Thrift Store parking lot—selling plants and items grown or created by the kids.…

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From Chaos to Calm: Horse Inspired Healing

From Chaos to Calm: Horse Inspired Healing

Horses are highly sensitive and have a unique ability to read human emotions. Sometimes they provide comfort to a child who is anxious or depressed. Other times they mirror the child's emotions by backing away or becoming skittish if the child is feeling anxious or angry. This cues the child to identify their emotions, and to discover what they might be doing to make the horse feel unsafe.…

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A Musical Journey of Healing

A Musical Journey of Healing

Kids at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch are making music—they are learning how to play the ukulele! The ukuleles at the Fargo campus are being lent to use by Grace Lutheran School, and the Minot ukuleles were donated by a couple that goes above and beyond for our kids. With their generosity and a special discount from the ukulele company, Deaconess Kelly Jacob's dream of teaching the kids to play the ukulele became possible.…

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"Perfect" by Dr. Monte Selby; A Song About Ranch Kids

"Perfect" by Dr. Monte Selby; A Song About Ranch Kids

One of the most important things children discover in their time at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch is their "voice." Most of our trauma-affected kids have been told what they are, what they think, why they are failures, and why they will always be failures. Through hard work, determination, and a commitment to their treatment and education, they begin to discover their strengths. They begin to tell their own true stories, in their own voice.…

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Belief in the Power of HOPE

Belief in the Power of HOPE

When it comes to overcoming challenges, Helen Keller (1880-1968) set the bar quite high. She was a lifelong learner, teacher, inspiration. She danced, laughed, wrote, and loved. She was deaf, blind, and had great difficulty speaking. And, she changed the world and the way we view the potential of those with special needs. Her teacher and best friend, Anne Sullivan, who was herself blind and parentless, instilled a sense of hope in the young Helen. Anne had a persistent hope that guided Helen into her future.…

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The Many Faces of Ranch Kids and Staff

The Many Faces of Ranch Kids and Staff

All of us at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch are humbled and grateful each day. First, by the opportunity to serve the Lord by serving others. Second, that the “others” we serve are precious children on a journey of hope and healing to become their best selves. Third, that so many people, like you, support our work. The attitude of gratitude we carry into each day is more than a clever rhyme, it is a worldview based on the honor we feel. We try to find every way possible to share our thankfulness with everyone.…

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A Work in Progress

A Work in Progress

A few weeks ago I was going through our cafeteria line for lunch on campus when there was a commotion at the other end of the dining center. Something had agitated one of our children, a young boy, and he threw his lunch tray on the floor. It hit with such force that the unbreakable plastic dish shattered and, of course, milk flew everywhere. Staff quickly helped the young man leave the environment and helped him use some of his coping and calming skills. In a few minutes, he was able to re-set his emotions and finish lunch.…

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