Australian Nonprofit Purchases Farm to Provide Retreat for Children, Teens With Autism
Mansfield Autism Statewide Services (MASS), an Australian nonprofit dedicated to helping children and teenagers with autism, purchased a 40-hectare farm in northeastern Victoria this month from a local family. The organization hopes the picturesque location will be able to significantly improve the lives of its clients. The organization currently serves 300 families throughout the state and hopes to transform the farm into a peaceful escape for children and teenager’s with autism. Upon completion, the site will feature a school, therapeutic service, a family camp, and more. The farm is already replete with a house, barns, tennis court, and paddocks. Simone Reeves, MASS’s director, said utilizing the farm for the organization has been “a dream for some time now. Nature and space is very important for people on the spectrum, and it'll make a huge difference. Most of the children who come to us are in the clinical range of anxiety and before we can put any strategies in place to develop independence and academic skills, we need to reduce their anxiety. To have a lovely calm environment for them to come out to will be life changing for them."
One mother of four, Stacey Manoglou, said MASS has been extremely beneficial for her teenage daughter Katerina, who has severe autism and other conditions.
MASS currently hopes to raise $24 million to complete the project. Matt Currie, the president of the organization, said MASS is struggling with an intense demand for services, and that it currently has greater demand than capacity to supply. Currie believes the farm can resolve that problem.
“The farm will future-proof us and enable us to expand and provide lifechanging services for more families in need, as funding becomes available," he said.
Reeves is also optimistic.
“Given the current environment this farm has come at the right time for us,” she said, “and it's showing it's absolutely the pace that these children really relate well to.”