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Old August 18th, 2017, 07:12 AM   #681
Visionary7903 Male
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Default 'Agricultural specialisterne': rural employment revolution for those with Autism

The subject of the last post was Autism Delaware, a nonprofit based in Newark, Delaware, whose mission is to help people and families affected by Autism. Its vision is that all people with autism have opportunities to learn, grow and live full lives as included and valued members of their communities.

Southern Delaware Therapeutic Riding is a Nassau, Delaware-based nonprofit that is a PATH (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International) affiliated center located in Eastern Sussex County. The mission of SDTR is to improve the physical and emotional well-being of children and adults in Sussex and Kent Counties living with disabilities through equine assisted therapy and experienced certified instructors, and in doing so, increase the cognitive and social skills, the self-esteem and confidence of our participants...
Quote:
[These horses] don't hold doctorate degrees. They didn't attend medical school.
They love to roll around in the dirt on hot summer days, and a few ginger snaps for a treat certainly never hurts.
The horses are vital therapy resources for dozens of Delawareans who need their help on a weekly basis.
The four therapy horses at Southern Delaware Therapeutic Riding, along with two Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International-certified (human) instructors at the nonprofit, work to make life a little easier for clients living with autism [and various other challenges.]

"One of the great things about the program is it's for all ages," said Kelly Boyer, a certified instructor and SDTR's vice president. "Our youngest rider has been 3..."
On Saturday, June 20, SDTR will open its new doors to the public for its first open house, which will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and feature lesson demonstrations as well as food, drinks and entertainment.
For Dover resident Marjorie Springer, working with with horses has provided valuable lessons on horse care as well as therapy sessions. She started with SDTR about a month ago, and is still finding her bearing on Lucy's chestnut back. Just being around the calm, sweet-tempered horse is a treat, she said.
"It also helps me with my balance," she said, after she mounted the quiet quarter horse during a recent lesson.
Springer suffers from multiple sclerosis, and she said she discovered therapeutic riding while talking with a friend during a visit to the YMCA. She kept the option in the back of her mind until she finally researched therapeutic riding online. Now, she doesn't plan on stopping any time soon, as long as her schedule permits her to make the 40-minute trek to the stables.
Her toes are numb, she said as Boyer adjusted her stirrups. But Springer smiles and sits up straight, ready for a few laps around SDTR's dirt-floor arena.
"It's like you become one," she said of riding Lucy.
Lucy, who is in her late teens and was once a show horse, is perfect for therapy because she is calm, patient, steady and trustworthy, Boyer said.
"It takes a very unique horse to be part of a program like this," Boyer said. "You want a horse that can tolerate different movements and noises and different things that happen with the riders."
Boyer said SDTR works with 20 to 25 clients each week. Some only groom the horses, which provides an opportunity to learn more about the horse or just chat with the instructor about what's going on in their lives.
After leasing several Sussex County spaces, SDTR sought to purchase a permanent home through an ambitious capital campaign that aims to expand the nonprofit's services. Board members aim to raise $1.1 million and, so far, nearly $500,000 has been raised through grants and business and private funders, including multiyear pledges and large donations from the Longwood Foundation, the Lingo family, the Welfare Foundation, the Delaware Community Foundation and others.
While SDTR is nearly half-way to its fundraising goal, more donations are needed to support operations and future expansions. The campaign aims to raise money to support group programs with SDTR's partners, including Children's Beach House, Sussex Consortium, Wounded Warriors, Autism Delaware and others.
The new property is just under 10 acres, said SDTR board member and spokeswoman Jennifer Swingle. A ranch house at the front of the property is privately rented; there also is a large barn with an indoor arena, eight stalls and office and storage space, as well as a second barn, she said.
While the four therapy horses, two instructors and single caretaker have their hands full running the therapy business, they heavily rely on volunteers, Swingle said.
Lewes resident Keith McDonald, who serves as SDTR's volunteer coordinator, board member, horse care manager, and is working to become the group's third certified instructor, said they rely on about three dozen volunteers and could always use more.
McDonald started with SDTR about eight years ago. Because of his love both for horses and for the clients, he found himself gaining more responsibility, especially after SDTR moved to the new Milton location.
The new space is at least double the size of SDTR's previous location on Plantation Road in Lewes, he said.
"We knew we needed to really have our own place in order to grow and thrive and survive," he said.
McDonald said he's excited to see SDTR expand and gain more public awareness so he, his co-workers and of course, [the horses], can bring peace and joy to more Delawareans.
"The moment that helps me understand why I'm here is when I see the joy and sense of accomplishment that they get. Because, being a horse lover, I've experienced that, too," he said. "I know what the bond between horses and people can do."
Here is a link to a video from Southern Delaware Therapeutic Riding:


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