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KIMBERTON — A year ago, Beaver Farm, one of the newest schools of Camphill Special Schools, opened its doors. Located on West Seven Stars road in Kimberton, the school offers two new buildings, a residential dorm building and a new dining hall. The buildings are both green and eco friendly.
The school at Beaver Farm is for 18- to 21-year-olds with intellectual and developmental disabilities, who all take part in the Transitional Program. The program was designed for students in the gap between high school and adult age, who continue to benefit from a caring, structured environment. According to the Camphill website, the Transitional Program aims to “guide students through community work and living, from school into adult life.”
Teacher Lauren Gieger explained, “It’s a transitional age. They’re moving towards functional academics and application of daily life skills. Instead of the general classroom setting where they are just learning things, they’re actually taking that information and applying it into the vocational workshop.”
Students come from all over the country, as far as California.
Beaver Farm is a fully functioning biodynamic meat farm with cows, pigs and chickens.
Currently, 18 students reside at Beaver Farm and take part in several vocational crews, throughout the day including a barn crew, garden crew, farm crew, woodshop crew, pottery crew and a fabric crew. In the afternoon there is an academic crew.
Coworker Brendan Tracy said, “Everybody in whatever capacity they are able, is an integral part of the work that happens. We don’t have to go and find busywork, we rather adapt things to students’ abilities and make them an integral part of a working farm.”
Gieger added, “This is a vocational program where we incorporate functional academics as much as possible. It’s also a full time residential life skills program, so students are able to practice these skills in naturally occurring settings. It’s not artificially constructed tasks, these are all meaningful jobs that they do. They’re able to generalize them much more efficiently and take the skills with them and apply them elsewhere.”
Tracy remarked, “The big difference with Camphill is that it is a household with students and coworkers living together. It’s not so much a facility.All the meals are had together. “
Funding for the two new buildings came from years of fundraising, as well as funding from different school districts from where the students initially came from. The program hopes to expand and have more day students.
More information is available at www.camphillspecialschool.org.