See gorgeous photos of the ranch this couple donated to help people with PTSD.

When one of his horses crashed into him without warning, Rick Wanless had no idea how badly he was hurt.

Wanless, who is in his late 70s, was working on his ranch in British Columbia four years ago when the collision happened. It didn't seem so bad at first, but the pain was intense. He had broken his pelvis and suffered severe internal injuries.

A team of paramedics rushed him to a local hospital. From there, he was transported by medevac to a trauma center in Vancouver.


Luckily, Wanless made a full recovery. And today he's riding horses again without fear, something he's loved doing his entire life. He credits those amazing first responders with making that possible.

Wanless and his wife, Donna, decided there had to be a way for them to give back.

Rick and Donna. All photos by Rick Wanless, used with permission

"I realized that they have a pretty demanding job and a great many of them have PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder)," he said. "The need to help them seems to be overlooked when they're so busy helping us."

So he started reading. And as he read, he found dozens and dozens of articles praising the therapeutic value of farms and ranches. And it's true, studies have shown that exposure to nature can be great at easing the symptoms of PTSD, which include intense fear, anxiety, insomnia, and many others.

As he read, Wanless looked around the serene, 25-acre ranch he and his wife call home and came to a big realization.

It was the perfect place for healing.

Rick and Donna offered up their ranch to Honour House, an organization that provides free housing and support to Canadian veterans and people who have served who have PTSD.

When most people want to give back, they donate money. Rick and Donna decided instead to open up their home to people in need — to share their little slice of nature with people who desperately need to get away from the triggers and stresses of everyday life.

"I imagine a lot of people leave stuff in their wills, but they never know if it comes to fruition or not," he said. "This is actually something we can see happening."

The property will be called Honour Ranch, and small numbers of individuals suffering from PTSD will be able to visit and work with the horses...

...watch for deer, bears, and other wildlife...

...boat or kayak on the pond or nearby river...

...or just camp out and enjoy the tranquility.

Rick and Donna will continue to live on the ranch, but they won't have a great deal of interaction with their guests. And that's the point.

He said they have virtually no neighbors, making the property a perfect place to be alone in nature.

Of course, rest and recuperation is only one aspect of recovery. Honour House will bring in treatment professionals as needed to work with visitors to the ranch. The program is expected to kick off in Spring 2017.

In the meantime, Rick and Donna just hope their kindness will inspire others.

"We've had a wonderful life. We haven't had any hardships," he said. "If [others like us] can be inspired by what we're doing and want to help out in some way in their community, that would be wonderful."

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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