Leg Up Farm A Contestant in Global Pepsi Contest; Project Would Help Brand New Facility for Children with Special Needs

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Leg Up Farm, an innovative new center for children with special needs, incorporates a multitude of services that make therapy more comfortable, convenient and fun for families. Grant would fund new therapeutic gardens.

Leg Up Farm offers a range of services for children with special needs. To be incorporated are sensory gardens that maximize nature and enhance the environment in which services are delivered.

“We’ve been elated at the community’s response and reception to Leg Up Farm,” says founder Louie Castriota, Jr. “Our kids have so much fun, they don't realize the different activities are part of their therapy plan."

A new Pennsylvania-based center for children with special needs is a contender to win $250,000 in a global contest sponsored by Pepsi. Leg Up Farm (LUF) successfully submitted an entry for the Doing Good: 101 texting competition that would make possible some exciting new additions to its brand new facility that caters to families not just patients. The entry had to make it past a team of Pepsi judges in order to qualify and now the winners will be chosen by popular vote. To vote for Leg Up Farm, you can text 103318 to Pepsi (73774) or vote online. You can vote daily through October. For more information, visit http://www.refresheverything.com/legupfarm.

Pepsi’s contest is broken into six categories in which the projects will benefit the planet, neighborhoods, arts and culture, food and shelter, health, and education. LUF’s entry falls in the health category and would allow the novel new therapeutic center to incorporate sensory gardens into its environmentally friendly design. Leg Up Farm is a hands-on program that provides not just speech, physical and occupational therapy for its patients – all together in one central location, which is in itself rare – but art therapy, dance therapy, an indoor horse arena/barn and an interactive town center that makes the center a fun destination for families not just a one-stop shop for therapy appointments.

Known as “Rainbow Gardens,” Leg Up Farm’s sensory gardens would enhance the environment in which therapy services are delivered to children and their families, make the spaces accessible to persons with disabilities and allow people to enjoy and benefit from nature – a core theme of Leg Up Farm’s approach to therapy for children with special needs.

The “Rainbow Gardens” will provide walking paths, a meditation garden, and other visual and sensory stimulation for children. The gardens will be designed and installed with minimal impact to the environment and are designed to provide fresh-air opportunities to the children, increased respect for and education about the environment (including the role of wildlife, insects, vegetation, fresh air and sunshine in sustaining us), an understanding about food production, an assistance dog respite area and space for recreation and exercise.

Leg Up Farm opened in April 2010. Founded by Louie Castriota, the father of four, the farm was inspired by his daughter Brooke, 14, who was born with mitochondrial disease.

“Leg Up Farm believes that every child is special and that everyone involved in a child’s life must work together . . . from family and friends, to doctors and therapists, to teachers, volunteers, and community members. The "Rainbow Gardens" will improve a child's life all while caring for our environment and inspiring a sense of community in the process.”

Leg Up Farm will hold an open house on Saturday, Oct. 16, noon-4 p.m. at its new facility in Mount Wolf, Pa., just north of York. Festivities will include the first-ever viewing of the center’s new indoor horse arena/barn, an opportunity to meet LUF staff and tour the center, and the unveiling of the center’s official live mascot.

For more information on Leg Up Farm, visit http://www.legupfarm.org. To speak with Castriota, call 717-870-3293.

Interesting sidenotes: Louie’s daughter Olivia is a York College exchange student currently at St. John’s University in York, England. She casts her votes from overseas. Out of 160 grants awarded since February 2010, only one from Pennsylvania has secured funding.

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Gwen Newman
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