So, this is not like my usual posts, and I hope that is okay, but I really like interacting with you all and sharing what is going on in my life, and this topic is very close to my heart. This program that I volunteer for- which will remain anonymous because it is local- has been a HUGE part of my life for the past year and a half. The program itself specializes in extra help for children with special needs in unique ways. The part that I volunteer with is at their farm, where I work with the equestrian program- I know, it’s as cool as it sounds.
Just as a disclaimer, I am not trying to preach or force you do anything, I just want to share my positive experience with this program, and share how it has helped me out through the process and maybe inspire you to look into your community and see if anything interests you.
The purpose of the equestrian program is to help build the child’s muscular pattern. The movement of the horse is similar to the movement of a human’s gait- walking pattern- and through riding, the child can improve their flexibility, balance, muscle strength and breathing. Being around horses also helps create emotional bonds between the rider and the horse, helping with the emotional problems associated with each disability that we see. From working with these kids a year ago, I can see vast improvements in their riding style and communication abilities; it is amazing and unbelievable to think that I played a small role in that person’s life journey.
Throughout my year there, I have interacted with so many children and teenagers, made lasting connections with staff members and other volunteers, as well as did some soul searching. I have also made some inseparable bonds with the horses that I work with, my most special being with the Gypsy Vanner, who is pictured above. I have found that working with this program and being around these amazing people, that I have a new appreciation for life- sorry, not trying to be cliche here or anything. Looking back at who I was before this program, I was more uptight and cared about superficial things and what other people thought about me. Now, I can confidently say that I have become more confident in myself and through working with at the farm, have become more calm. Because of this program, as well as family reasons, I have decided to change my post-grad program from physical therapy to occupational therapy, because I have found that I have an emotional connection with this area.
Even though this program is designed to help children and young adults, it has truly changed me along the way, and for the better, and I will be forever grateful. I can’t wait to see where this program takes me in the future.
Share below any volunteer stories that you have in the comments!