In January 2016, the Horse Center established a Task Force with the goal of developing a Pilot Program to support our vision of providing children, adults and families with opportunities to build leadership skills, communication skills, self-esteem and personal awareness through interaction with horses.
Two programs were created, developed and organized by a 100% volunteer-staffed and funded by donors. The goal was to offer two 4-week sessions for each program:
- Kids Who Love Horses
- Girl Power
Kid's Who Love Horses was for children ages six through eleven. A group of sixteen children met twice a week for two hours. The sessions focused on basics of horse care and management, and a smaller percent of time was devoted to riding.
Girl Power was aimed at junior high aged girls to teach them empowerment skills through unmounted interaction with the horses. Girl Power offered this older group a way to connect deeper into relationship with themselves, others and the horses.
- Each Girl Power class started with a mindfulness exercise; the girls would sit quietly while observing the horses in their natural herd environment. After, they engaged in activities promoting team and relationship building skills. Each class ended with thoughtful, open-end discussion.
- At the end of the first 4-week session, the group wanted to continue. We enlarged the class size to allow new participants to join. We were very pleased to see how welcoming the initial participants invited the new members into the group.
- After the second session, the girls again requested that the program continue, which we did through the summer. In total, the group met for 12 weeks.
- To celebrate the work they did, the girls organized a wedding between two horses. (Watch video now.)
PILOT PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS
We are thrilled to share that our Pilot Program reached more than 500 community members!
- Overwhelming interest; over twice the number of applications received for available spots
- 3,560 hours donated by over 50 volunteers
- 14 beautiful, well-trained volunteer horses
- 250 pony rides provided for free
- 50 students enrolled in Pilot Program
- 30 students participated in affordable group lessons
- 4 scholarships awarded in conjunction with Island-Wide Youth Collaboration
- 10 special family and enrichment events
- 25 donations received unsolicited from families
- Over 90% of participants have continued on their horse journey