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Arvada nonprofit hopes to build memorial gazebo to honor Boulder shooting victims

Animal Assisted Therapy Programs of Colorado plans to build and install the gazebo sometime in May.

ARVADA, Colo. — At a special farm in Arvada, humans tend to the animals, but it also goes the other way around.

"This is Dahlia," said Linda Chassman Craddock, petting the black and white fur of a pigmy goat. “She loves her butt scratched."

Dahlia is one of more than 30 rescued therapy animals who call Animal Assisted Therapy Programs of Colorado (AATPC) home. 

Chassman Craddock is the co-founder and executive director. She leads a team of 15 counselors who team up with the animals to help people experiencing mental and behavioral health issues. 

"What we find is that animals really help to spark that relationship in counseling that often takes a long time," Chassman Craddock said.

Credit: KUSA

The nonprofit serves about 250 people a week and offers several thousand sessions a year. Many of the people seeking help have experienced trauma in their lives. 

“We have had people come here that were impacted by the shooting at King Soopers as well as many of the other tragedies," Chassman Craddock said.

After the shooting in Boulder last year, Chassman Craddock said a family member of one of the victims reached out. She expressed that her loved one was an animal lover and she connected with the mission of AATPC. 

Credit: KUSA

"They are making a donation and with the wishes that it be used to build a gazebo," Chassman Craddock said.

The nonprofit is now looking for some help to get the project done.

"[The family] raised a couple thousand dollars for us, and we could use some more money so that we could really make this a beautiful, iconic structure," Chassman Craddock said.

The gazebo would sit on the edge of a long field beside a creek. 

“I think it’s the prettiest spot on our whole property," Chassman Craddock said. 

The nonprofit would like the gazebo to honor the ten victims of the shooting in Boulder.

"So that more clients can really experience this place and experience the healing power of the animals and of this lovely environment," Chassman Craddock said.

The nonprofit is raising money to complete the memorial gazebo described on its website as a place of reflection, mediation and peace.

“We’re hoping to have those family members who would like to come to share in its opening," she said.

Chassman Craddock said she hopes the gazebo will be built and installed some time in May.

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SUICIDE & MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential support for those in crisis 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255. 

Colorado Crisis Services 

There are four ways to get confidential and immediate help: by phone at 1-844-493-8255, over text message (text the word “TALK” to 38255), via an online chat service, or at walk-in centers throughout metro Denver, northern, the southeast region and the western slope. Many of these services are available 24/7. 

Trained counselors are available to help with relationship problems, depression, bullying, stress, suicidal thoughts, substance abuse, family crisis and more. 

Mental Health Colorado 

This advocacy organization hosts a variety of online mental health screening in both English and Spanish, a mental health toolkit for schools, a page dedicated to the latest mental health research, as well as a variety of events throughout the year. 

Colorado Department of Human Services Office of Behavioral Health 

Using this link, you can find the community mental health center nearest to you. All of the centers accept Medicaid and most have sliding payment options for those who do not have insurance. 

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