West Kelowna  

A place of healing

A young Kelowna woman with a love for horses is sharing her story in an attempt to raise awareness of bullying.

Natalie Stolz, 21, was born and raised in Kelowna. From a young age, she was bullied.

“I got bullied from Grade 4 onwards. I had a hard time in school – kids were mean,” says Stolz. “I had a bad back, so I didn't have the best posture, and my skin wasn't great.”

She says there was a period of about six years when she was bullied relentlessly.

“It got to the point I was eating lunch in the bathroom,” says Stolz, which was a final straw. She left school in Grade 10 and never graduated.

“It's hard,” Stolz says through tears.

“It is debilitating, it can totally bring confidence down. I am over it, but talking about it brings back all those emotions and makes it hard. I wish other people could see that it is not something anyone should have to go through – nobody should ever treat other people like that, because no one is better than anyone else. It is not fair.”

She says it took years for her to see the light.

“I was really suicidal, I had been in the hospital, in and out a few times – at least four, twice admitted to the psych ward because I tried to kill myself. It took a long time to build back up.”

Stolz says one of the reasons she’s alive today is a woman named Silverado Socrates of Mandy and Me Trail Riding

Stolz says from a young age she loved horses, and an opportunity to help out at Mandy and Me changed her life.

“I got the opportunity to come up here and help around the farm with the horses. It gave me confidence, it taught me compassion and patience. Dealing with customers gave me some really good life skills, good social skills and it let me build that back up. To talk to the animals, they didn't judge me, they were just there,” explains Stolz.

“I talked her into selling me one of her best horses, Jack, and I've had him for over eight years now. He gave me something to wake up to every day, something to care for and love, and he gave it right back 100 per cent,” says Stolz through tears. “Without him, I wouldn't be here.”

Stolz is one of many troubled youth who have found hope at the farm on Bear Creek Road, something Socrates takes pride in.

“This has definitely been my special place,” she says. “Over the years, I've come to realize what a value this is to the community ... there is so much more potential.”

But Socrates may not get the chance, as the farm is in foreclosure. She founded the company 20-plus years ago, and is heartbroken over the situation.

“It is more than that with this place. We make people happy,” says Socrates. 

She's hopeful a solution can be found.

“This was my healing process. I came here when I was feeling completely lost. It is hard to hear it may be gone,” says Stolz.

“I'm happy now, I found peace with everything. I don't want revenge, I don't judge anybody else for doing the things they did to me. I just want to raise some kind of awareness to say, be careful what you do to other people because as you can see – it does a lot of damage."

“I want people to see that, yeah, people get bullied, but it does get better. You have to keep your head up and stay strong.”

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