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Growing Colorado Kids is leading the effort to help refugee children feel like they're part of a community here in America.
As national discourse around the world's growing refugee crisis heats up, many regional non-profit organizations are helping to integrate recent arrivals into communities around the country. Growing Colorado Kids, founded in 2008 by Chris and Denise Lines, is one of these groups—and they're working closely with children and refugee families in the Denver area to expose youngsters to farm life, teaching them about animals, fresh produce and building a new community.
"Most of these families get moved into one square block, and so you're only seeing other people like you," Denise Line told Colorado Public Radio. "I don't like the word 'integrated,' but you're not getting to know your neighbors."
Originally started as a program which re purposed inner-city plots of land as urban farms to grow food for refugees, Growing Colorado Kids moved to a five-acre farm in Commerce City in 2013. Now, children spend time on the farm alongside volunteers planting, tending to, and harvesting fresh vegetables. It gives the kids a chance to get out of the city, experience fresh air in a more rural setting, and engage with the community and their peers—sharing meals, practicing English, and learning about life on a farm.
"There is a pride to say that 'I'm a refugee,'" Lines told the radio station. "Not just 'I can survive,' but 'I can thrive, and I can take those situations and build upon them.' It's beautiful."