NORMAN, Okla. – This old home in Norman, Oklahoma is a place of new beginnings.
The Mary Abbott Children’s House is a safe environment for young victims of physical or sexual abuse, children who have witnessed crime or been placed in other dangerous situations.
“We pride ourselves on being a safe place where they can come and tell their story,” Executive Director Andree Danley said.
They work closely with law enforcement and child protective services.
This “impact wall” with children's hand prints spotlights the magnitude of the problem.
“When the children are finished with their interview, they can put their hand print on the wall,” Danley said. “It just reiterates they are not alone.”
Getting the kids to share is not always easy.
“We see lots of kids who are untrusting of adults and closed off when they come through the doors,” Danley told us. “They have their arms crossed and don’t want to talk to anyone.”
So, the Children’s Home is recruiting some helpers.
“There have been multiple times kids have come in and wouldn’t even tell me their names,” Family Advocate Hannah Showalter said. “But once they met Phoebe they open up very quickly and start to talk about all the things their dogs do at home.”
Phoebe's skills as a therapy dog were developed here, at Mabel Bassett Correctional Center.
Cassie Cramer has trained dozens of dogs. But Phoebe is special.
“Just the thought of what she’s being used for touched my heart,” inmate Cramer said. “She’ll help children who have suffered just like many of us and that’s amazing to me.”
Last year, more than 1400 children were able to begin the path to recovery at Mary Abbott Children’s Home. Never undervalue the healing potential of a paw.
“Especially these paws,” Showalter said. ‘It’s really valuable to have them here.”