One Thousand Days Transformed - The Campaign for Cedarville
Ranch of Opportunity building

Students bring hope to troubled teens at Ranch of Opportunity

by Alyssa Speicher, Public Relations Writer

Ten Cedarville University nursing students reached troubled teenage girls this past fall through a new ministry at Eastway’s Ranch of Opportunity in Fayette County. Students invited the girls to hang out, play games, pray and hear testimonies each Sunday afternoon. The ministry will continue during the spring semester as well.

The Ranch helps 13-18-year-old girls who struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder or major depression with a residential treatment program. Most of the girls have also suffered extreme traumatic events, such as neglect or abuse.

Cedarville’s relationship with the Ranch started fall 2016 when it became a clinical rotation site for nursing students. Students were deeply moved by their experiences at the Ranch and thought it would be an excellent site for ministry. The school of nursing is grateful that Eastway has allowed students to take part in its ministry.

“The Bible calls us to take care of those who can’t take care of themselves, and the Ranch gives us an opportunity to do just that,” said Dr. Janet Neal, associate professor of nursing and faculty adviser for the Ranch of Opportunity outreach.

Students originally wanted to hold a Bible study but soon realized the girls didn’t want to attend another regimented session. Instead, the students decided to use unstructured free time to create opportunities for genuine, Christ-centered conversations.

“We just want to show the girls that we love them,” said senior nursing student Kelly Paat. “They always crave more one-on-one time from adults, so we just want to show them that someone cares about their lives personally.”

Nursing students who attend the outreach have already had formalized training on how to deal with mental illnesses through their psychiatric nursing rotation, but students are able to connect with the girls on other levels as well.

”The ages of these girls range from 13 to 18, and I remember being in that age group,” said senior nursing student Bethany Elam. “Anxiety and depression are familiar to me even if I don’t have the same kind of stories that these girls come to the table with.”

The students strive to be the kind of person they needed when they were teenagers, and the girls at the Ranch of Opportunity have responded well, choosing to attend the sessions during their limited free time on Sundays.

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 3,963 undergraduate, graduate, and online students in more than 150 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings, and leading student satisfaction ratings. For more information about the University, visit

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