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  Horses help heal the kids of New York
Updated 02 September 2002, 09.39

By Tim Masters
CBBC Newsround Online

New York kids who were badly affected by last year's terror attacks have been getting some special help to talk about their feelings - from animals.

Fact File
New York schools
1.1 million schoolkids in New York
8,000 students and staff were in area of World Trade Center on 11 Sept
More than 100,000 kids have since shown anxiety symptoms
One group of children was taken out of the city to go horseriding in the countryside.

Many of them hadn't spoken at all about the shock and distress caused by the events of 11 September.

Sharing secrets

But when they got back from the ride they helped groom the horses.

And then they started to tell the horses their stories.

This is just one success story to come out from Project Liberty, an organisation set up to help people traumatised by 11 September.

"It's a big way that children can get their feelings out," April Naturale, head of Project Liberty, told CBBC Newsround Online.

Rescue dogs

Pet therapy at Ground Zero
Her organisation has been going into New York schools to help kids talk about their anxieties.

Kids are encouraged to express themselves through art and poetry too.

And the children have also been meeting the rescue dogs who helped find survivors after the Twin Towers collapsed.

Animal therapy

Animals have been used for years as a way of helping people talk about their feelings, says Dr June McNicholas, an expert in pet therapy at Warwick University.

She says that animals help in two ways:

  • kids will focus on the animal and not the adults around them
  • kids can talk to an animal knowing it won't tell anyone else

"Animals don't judge," says Dr McNicholas. "And a child can use an animal to rehearse what they want to say to another person.

"Just sharing the problem can be comfort enough."

TV campaign

In New York, Project Liberty expects another big rise in demand for its helpers around the 11 September anniversary.

It is running TV commercials aimed at young people.

"A lot these children are feeling anxiety, or don't want to leave their parents and we have to let them know this is okay," says April Naturale.

If you want to contact Project Liberty you can click on the link on the right hand side.

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