Children with Disabilities Take the Reins in Therapeutic Horse Riding
Camp Cheerful in Strongsville, Ohio offers year-round riding lessons
STRONGSVILLE, Ohio, Jan. 9, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — At the Achievement Centers for Children’s Camp Cheerful nestled in 52 acres of the Cleveland Metroparks, staff and volunteers are getting ready for their next Therapeutic Horseback Riding lessons that will begin this week. It is expected that over 4,000 riding lessons will be given again this year with the assistance of over 400 volunteers. Children and adults with a broad range of disabilities will enjoy the program’s nine gentle horses with the guidance of certified therapeutic riding instructors.
Riders with physical disabilities, cognitive and developmental delays, conditions including autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, stroke and others can experience physical and emotional rewards through therapeutic horse riding. According to the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) at www.pathintl.org, “Riding a horse moves the rider’s body in a manner similar to a human gait, so riders with physical needs often show improvement in flexibility, balance and muscle strength.” Camp Cheerful’s horse riding program is one of only 12 programs in the state certified as a Premier Accredited Center by PATH Intl., and all their instructors are certified by PATH as well.
The use of the horse and equine-oriented activities are incorporated in the lessons to achieve a variety of therapeutic goals, including cognitive, physical, emotional, social, educational and behavioral goals that are based on an individual’s strengths and abilities and their particular disability. “We see individuals with disabilities in our therapeutic riding program build their core muscular strength, improve their balance, and develop friendships with their favorite horse, their instructors and other riders in the program,” said Connie Boros, Vice President of Recreation and Sports for the Achievement Centers for Children. Highly-trained staff, volunteers and special horses complete the Camp Cheerful riding team. One parent of two teenage sons with autism in the Therapeutic Horse Riding program said, “These horses and these instructors have made such a difference in our sons’ lives. It provides them with physical activity and social needs, and a sense of community.”
For one 13-year-old girl, horseback riding has become her passion. Paralyzed from the waist down, Rachel has been riding for 6 years, and recently participated in the Chagrin Valley Hunter Jumper Classic with other riders from the Achievement Centers, and earned first place in her category. This event was of such importance to her that she postponed back surgery until after the show so she could participate. Her mother related that it’s not just the physical improvements such as her posture, strength and balance that are so important, riding gives her daughter a real sense of pride, feeling of accomplishment, and has earned her bragging rights with her friends. When Rachel is riding, she takes a break from her disability, and can experience what other children do – meeting challenges and learning to achieve goals, making friends, and simply having fun.
Information on Therapeutic Horse Riding at Camp Cheerful in Strongsville can be found by visiting http://www.achievementcenters.org/tr. The Achievement Centers for Children is a private, nonprofit organization whose mission is to enable and empower children with disabilities and their families to grow, learn, play and prepare for lifelong achievement in society. Providing comprehensive high-quality, cost-effective services and programs in the areas of therapy services, intensive therapy, family support, education and autism services, recreation and adapted sports, the Achievement Centers for Children is uniquely positioned to care for the child and family through facilities in Highland Hills, Westlake and Camp Cheerful in Strongsville, Ohio. For more information, visit www.achievementcenters.org or call 216-292-9700.
SOURCE Achievement Centers for Children