PHILADELPHIA, PA - In East Germantown, underprivileged youth and members of the community are finding comfort in…therapy goats.
The brand-new Philly Goat Project was dreamt up by Karen Krivit. She’s spent the last year transforming a section of the Awbury Arboretum in East Germantown into the home for the five goats currently in the program.
Each week, Krivit has designated hours for community goat walks, where three Nigerian Dwarf goats, or two mixed breed larger goats can be taken for walks.
Krivit has developed programming with the goats to increase community engagement, with things like animal therapy, school visits for students with special needs, and goat yoga. The first goat yoga session is Sunday 8/12 and costs $35. The money raised will go right back to the goats in the program.
The goats currently graze in areas with solar-powered electric fencing. Krivit says they're helping keep the arboretum's trails manicured and maintained. One day, Krivit says she wants to allow people to take the goats to their homes to graze - which will help them maintain their yards! The goats can eat up to 25 percent of their body weight a day. Krivit told PHL17, “Goats can be really helpful and add to the sustainability of the environment in an urban setting.”
Steven Parr, a Germantown native, wandered into the arboretum a few months ago and has since found a new passion volunteering with the goat project.
Parr explained, “Touching a goat is the furthest thing from your mind in 24 hours of a day as a young black Philadelphian in the inner-city. I now have a genuine attachment with the goats…Growing up in the city you have such a detachment from nature itself that something like this could benefit you greatly. I think everybody who has grown up with nature in their life can see the natural rewards of having access to it. So growing up in the city, why can’t we?”
And that’s the goal of the goats project.
Krivit said, “We want to have programming that is free and low-cost to kids who may otherwise be involved in gangs or drugs or just unhealthy things, and what better way to get them off the streets then to be involved in working with these beautiful lovely sweet animals.”
All three of the smaller goats are, for the most part, litter box trained. That will come in handy this Sunday when it’s the first goat yoga of the season. That’s when all of the goats can jump on your back.
Karen says she’s planning a dedication ceremony for the goats in September.