Rabbits and pigs and goats, oh my!

Livestock show for people with disabilities

Two cute rabbits and a pig looking quite noble caught my eye on a flier my daughter brought home from school recently announcing a livestock show for children with multiple disabilities.

Sponsored by the Boone County 4-H Livestock Club, the show is scheduled for 11 a.m. May 12 at the Boone County Fairgrounds. Participants can choose to show a rabbit, chicken, lamb, pig or goat. The event is free, and there will be prizes.

I love animals and the connection children can have with them, so this, I thought, was a great idea. I emailed Christy Eastwood, the show’s contact at the Boone County Cooperative Extension office. Christy did a super job several years ago setting up a cooking and healthy habits program for a group of families with special needs children that I had organized. I was happy to see her name connected to this program.

She wrote back explaining that this is the third year for the show, which was the idea of a 4-H family. While the show is promoted for ages 9-18, it’s open to people of any age. Last year, Christy said, a 2-year-old participated.

Also, it’s not limited to Boone County. “The more the better,” Christy said.

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Boone County 4-H Livestock Club members gather with participants in the livestock show for individuals with special needs at the fairgrounds.

Here’s how the event works:

Upon arrival, participants and their parents sign in, sign a photo release and get a T-shirt. Participants are paired with 4-H youths and their animals and spend about thirty minutes working together and getting to know each other.

Then it’s time for the show. Participants show their animal by either walking it in a small show ring or carrying it to a table. The 4-H partners are with them at all times to ensure the participants do only what they are comfortable with or capable of doing. Participants receive a medal and get their picture taken. The event lasts about an hour.

Christy said everyone benefits from the event.  The 4-H members get leadership and service experience, she said, and the individuals with special needs get the opportunity to interact with animals and other youth.

If you’re interested, you can RSVP to Christy at 586-6101 or ceastwoo@uky.edu. If you can’t commit, that’s OK too. Christy says anyone who shows up can participate. Registering, though, helps her to have enough T-shirts and medals.

4-H is a youth development organization run through Cooperative Extension offices across the country. The four h’s of 4-H stand for head, heart, hands and health. If you’re interested in learning more, here’s a great link I found with an overview : https://4-h.org/about/what-is-4-h/. And here’s one that tells more about Boone County’s 4-H program: https://boone.ca.uky.edu/files/4-h_program_information.pdf. Kenton and Campbell counties also have 4-H programs.

Photos provided by Boone County Cooperative Extension.