By: Tyler Stephenson, USC School of Journalism
An adventurous, nurturing, and secure childhood is often something most take for granted. Unfortunately, not all children are able to experience the peace of mind they deserve. A child’s childhood can be instantly altered from traumatic experiences, physical abuse, neglect, substance abuse, or tough circumstances. But under the right care and in a nurturing environment, troubled children can fiercely overcome their past and regain strength. Though it takes a dedicated team and precious formula, Windwood Farm Home has cultivated a nationally accredited treatment program.
Windwood Farm has been in operation for the past 31 years and over 500 boys have had the opportunity to call Windwood home. The 110-acre residential campus runs along the Wando River in Awnedaw, South Carolina. Located in what used to be an extremely rural part of Charleston County, Windwood has experienced significant growth along with the surrounding county. The Windwood campus offers its residents access to ponds, a variety of animals, an obstacle and challenge course, as well as nature and fitness trails. With these resources, the boys living at Windwood are able to explore, play, bike, fish, exercise, and do many more childhood activities they may have been deprived of growing up.
Along with on-campus activities, the Windwood Farm School offers many of the boys their first positive classroom experience. The Charleston County School District provides the teachers and classroom aides who work to provide each boy with individualized education services. Windwood’s reach extends into the Charleston County community with an outpatient behavioral health clinic just miles away in Mount Pleasant. This clinic offers its therapeutic services to children and families in the community.
Windwood Farm embodies a unique approach to the healing process for its boys who are at risk. The Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility (PRTF) is staffed with nurses, therapists, social workers, and direct care staff all working together to treat and support boys ages six to sixteen. Though most of the children being served are in the custody of SCDSS and are suffering from prior abuse, Windwood’s program also serves boys in the custody of their parents with no prior abuse or neglect. All campus staff are passionate about providing these boys with the skills needed to lead successful lives. The nature-based environment enables residents to regain their strengths and self-esteem through structured exploration.
Deborah McKelvey is the Executive Director of Windwood Farm and takes great pride in Windwood’s mission and accomplishments.
“We are giving children an opportunity to work through their trauma and experience childhood in a way that every child should have the chance to,” Debbie said.
Debbie’s favorite programs at Windwood are the family engagement and community based prevention services. Several events are put on throughout the year to engage local volunteers and keep the boys at Windwood connected to the community around them. Usually kids under the age of 14 are not permitted to volunteer on the farm, but every April Windwood puts on a youth services month festival. This festival gives all community members the opportunity to visit the farm and participate in activities with their families.
This April’s event is extra special because a young man that used to live at Windwood is coming back to participate and provide entertainment. Debbie recalls having a conversation with him and asking him why exactly he wanted to come back to Windwood and take part in the event. To the young man, the answer was simple.
“Windwood will always be in my heart. I used to never have a bed to sleep in or food to eat everyday. Those are two things you gave me,” the young man said.
At the end of the day, it is things as simple as that that can impact a child’s life.
Windwood Farm Mission Statement:
Providing help, hope, and healing through behavioral, educational, and therapeutic interventions which enhance social functioning and well-being, ensures safety, and works to achieve positive permanency for children and families in our community.