Have you ever met someone new, but, after spending a short period of time with them, felt like you’ve known them much longer? That was the experience of the Jacob’s Fund team when they met little Kyle and his family two short weeks ago.
Glenna, Jacob’s Fund Director, and Sonya, TRTP VP, drove to a quiet Cincinnati suburb to meet the newest recipient of a Jacob’s Fund ridership (aka a hippotherapy scholarship). The pair was warmly greeted by Kelli, Kyle’s mom, and welcomed into a very neat, organized home. After learning that both a 6- and 7-year-old live in this space, the ladies were amazed at how tidy everything was! Kelli was quick to explain that keeping a neat home creates a peaceful space for both her son and herself.
We asked her to explain and tell us more about Kyle. Beaming with love, she proceeded to help us get to know her unique little boy, all the while keeping a watchful eye on her children.
Kyle is an adorable blond haired, blue eyed, 7-year-old with a radiant smile and infectious laugh. He adores music, especially catchy gospel songs performed by the young people on one of his favorite videos. He recognizes and can point to all of his ABCs and 123s as well as his colors, small victories for children much younger than him, but colossal milestones for someone with his challenges.
At an early age, Kyle was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), which is characterized by delays in the development of socialization and communication skills, typically noted before 3 years of age. Symptoms may include problems using and understanding language; difficulty relating to people, objects, and events; unusual play with toys and other objects; difficulty with changes in routine or familiar surroundings, and repetitive body movements or behavior patterns. Unusual responses to sensory information, such as loud noises and lights, are also common. (Excerpts from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke)
Kyle also has epilepsy, a seizure disorder that affects the nervous system and is characterized by two or more seizures from an unknown cause. (Paraphrased from Epilepsy.com) In addition, he has hypotonia—low muscle tone—which creates balance issues causing him to fall easily.
Upon understanding that this little man has these conditions, we instantly understood the need to maintain a tidy house. Not only is the house kept in a way to maximize Kyle’s safety, but to honor his internal need for order. He likes chairs to be pushed in, doors to be closed and no clutter. It was evident to us that his parents care deeply about preparing and maintaining the best possible environment for their eldest child.
Now that you’ve met Kyle, maybe you feel like you know him too. Stay tuned for our next report that explains why Jacob’s Fund has taken an interest in this exceptional child!
That’s right.You read the title correctly.
The Red Thread Promise is standing on the threshold of a brand-new relationship with a PATH certified hippotherapy center in southwestern Ohio! While we will continue working with the kids and staff of McKenna Farms, our long-term partners in Georgia, The Red Thread team has longed to provide hippotherapy and therapeutic riding to children in other areas. Now, we are making that dream a reality.
Recently, Glenna (Jacob’s Fund Director) and Sonya (TRTP VP) traveled to Hilltop Equestrian Center in beautiful rural Ohio. Less than an hour’s drive from many of the more populated cities and towns in the area, Hilltop is staffed with AHA certified therapists who are ready to work with our children. During our conversation, we quickly established that both organizations share many common goals and basic principles, agreeing that:
It was the start of something beautiful.
Jim Hazelwood, Program and Events Director at Hilltop, and Amy Day, Master of Physical Therapy, guided the tour through the facility as we discussed practical matters such as:
As we’ve mentioned in previous reports, providing services like this goes far beyond the technical aspects. We were eager to hear what Hilltop does for families as a whole. With a goal of enriching all family members’ lives, a pre-screening consultation is required for entry into any Hilltop program so that staff can get to know not only the child receiving therapy, but the family also. Hilltop also provides numerous programs for other family members including adults, teens and typically developing siblings in addition to therapy services.
When we left, Hilltop welcomed The Red Thread Promise to visit, observe, take photos and interview staff, children, and families anytime. This was music to our ears as we do our best to share the progress of the children we support with you. In an upcoming post, you’ll meet Kyle, the first child Jacob's Fund will be sponsoring at Hilltop. Stay tuned and be prepared to fall in love with this precious little boy!
Only a week ago we honored our mothers on Mother’s Day. Since Jacob’s Fund’s work not only affects the children receiving therapy, but also their entire families, we thought you’d like to from a Jacob’s Fund mom...
Cameron and Landon received riderships from Jacob’s Fund earlier this year so they could continue their hippotherapy at McKenna Farms. Here’s what their mother, Melissa, has to say about their progress:
Cameron is not the same boy he was last year. His speech defect was downgraded from severe to mild in all areas.
What a joy it is to be able to have a conversation with my son! I have gotten to know him on a much deeper level since his therapy began. Now he can tell me “I like that” or “I don’t like that.” He no longer screams bloody murder when we brush his teeth or hair or try to put lotion on him. He does these things on his own!
At the beginning of August 2012 he wouldn’t even attempt to play with other children. If you could only see him now! I have to make Cameron leave when he is interacting with other kids. We rejoice over the tiniest victories because each one demonstrates the progress he is making...
Landon has also made great strides. He can communicate basic needs now. His teacher even videotaped him singing with his class the other day. We recently took him back to a developmental pediatrician who prescribed new medication for him. Within a short time he was playing with toys again for the first time in a week. Small victories!
I thank God for lighting my path last year. At a friend’s barb-b-que I met Shelly who told me of McKenna Farms and hippotherapy. I met Jesse, director of the farm, who introduced me to Jacob’s Fun]. Through the help of all these angels, we are getting to see our real sons shine through.
Please continue to pray for our family. Every day is a new journey and we take leaps of faith along . . . but I know God will supply our needs. He has thus far. Thank you so much for the opportunities Jacob’s Fund has given my children, for helping to restore a broken family who is enjoying getting to know their very special sons.
We will continue to keep you updated on the twins’ progress. Your support continues to help make this possible through either one-time or continuing contributions to “Give Hippotherapy to Children with Disabilities” on Global Giving.
The Red Thread Promise believes care for children with disabilities should be accurate, professional, and show measureable results. As we all know, care is more than simply technical ability and high-quality education. Just as forming a relationship with your family doctor is important, so are the relationships forged between therapist and child; families and therapy center; and families, therapy centers and Jacob’s Fund.
Over the past four weeks, we have been visiting therapy farms in western Ohio, actively seeking a partnership in the Midwest to expand the reach of Jacob’s Fund. Through extensive research and site visits, we have discovered that finding AHA (American Hippotherapy Association) certified therapists and PATH (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International) certified farms is challenging, but not impossible.
Those certifications are very important to us.
· * AHA certification ensures that a licensed health professional—trained in hippotherapy—is delivering the precise therapy required for the kids we sponsor. The therapists’ knowledge and technique are keys to the child achieving results.
· * PATH certifies both therapy centers and therapists (after individuals have completed the AHA certification standards). The accreditation process is a peer review system in which trained volunteers visit and review centers in accordance with PATH Intl. standards, based on the following: administrative, facility, program and applicable special interest standards.
So, how will we know when we have found the therapy center that is the right partner for Jacob’s Fund? In addition to AHA and PATH certification, we consider the following:
· * Is this facility child-centered?
· * How often is hippotherapy offered?
· * How many children/adults receive hippotherapy each week?
· * Are families encouraged to have an ongoing relationship with the center beyond the hippotherapy appointment?
· * Do the staff and therapists want to form a relationship with Jacob’s Fund, involving visits to the farm to observe the children in hippotherapy as well as interviews with families, patients and the center’s personnel?
· * And, most importantly, do the kids and their families feel that this is the right fit for them?
The goal of Jacob’s Fund is to provide as many riderships to the children we serve as possible. As we move forward in our expansion of Jacob’s Fund, we continue to rely on folks like our Global Giving partners.
We’ve recently been made aware of a child in western Ohio who is a potential recipient of a ridership. That adds urgency to our search for an appropriate hippotherapy center in the Midwest. We’re moving into new, exciting territory. Please join us on this journey, one you’ll find fulfilling and rewarding.
“Cameron has blossomed! He talks a mile a minute now! And Landon loves to ride now – he just takes off!” Those were the words Cameron and Landon’s mom couldn’t wait to tell us, sharing what the boys had accomplished since we last spoke.
Cameron greets and says goodbye to his teachers and knows the name of his classmates. He’s also able to hold eye contact while talking, something children with autism often struggle to do.
“Their progress has been truly astounding. They are so much more verbal now. Both boys greet me with ‘Hi, Miss Lysi.’”
“Socially, Landon needs to get up to speed, but he’ll get there," Landon's mom told us. "He now knows the alphabet as well as all his colors. And he says his prayers every night, after Mom or Dad get him started."
The boys’ grandmother, who sometimes brings them to hippotherapy sessions, has seen so much progress that she now has much loftier goals for them. She dreams that they will accomplish things no one could have expected earlier in their lives.
“They’ve transitioned beautifully. They’ve come a long way,” Rachel, the boys’ physical therapist beamed. “Now they talk about riding Sassy (their hippotherapy horse) when they are at home, and they look forward to coming to the farm each week.”
Note: For Jacob’s Fund founder, Glenna Fisher, this news resonates deeply. Her grandson, Jacob Noah Beachy, for whom Jacob’s Fund is named, talked to family, friends, and strangers about riding his horse, Major, at the farm. Atop this gentle horse Jacob also learned colors and numbers.
The Global Giving Community and other donors' gifts have helped make it possible for us to provide 12 months of uninterrupted hippotherapy for Cameron and Landon. You've brought two little boys who were once isolated from others happily into birthday parties, social interactions, with other kids and life itself. You’ve put the lilt back in their mother’s voice and have renewed their grandmother’s hopes. For this we thank you.
Cameron and Landon still have miles to go on their yearlong journey and beyond. We hope you’ll continue to give them your support by making a donation to this life-changing project.
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