Thanks to your support of the Boys & Girls Club, some of the most at-risk kids at our Oak View Branch are getting a chance to do something pretty special this spring. These city kids are spending some time doing something they’ve never done before – hanging out with horses.
Why horses? Because spending time with horses is actually teaching kids a lot about how to make good choices and be a better person. In partnership with the Huntington Beach Police Department and the Huntington Park Equestrian Center, a dozen pre-teens and teens are participating in equine therapy. The kids chosen for this program were headed down the wrong path - toward gangs, drugs, and dropping out of school. Now, they’re spending time with police officers and horses each week and loving every minute of it.
From the first moment the kids walked into the paddock, they started learning. Lesson #1: If you respect the horses, the horses respect you. If you’re aggressive, the horses are aggressive. The kids learn that it’s the same with the people in their lives. Starting with that first lesson, kids work their way through a curriculum developed by Horse Nation with certified counselors. In a group therapy setting, kids talk openly about topics like anger, bullying, drugs, gangs, leadership, self-esteem, relationships, family, peace-keeping, and the possibilities for their futures. Then kids get a chance to “hug and groom” the animals and do group activities with the horses that illustrate the concepts they talked about in group therapy. It’s a unique way to steer kids who were starting down the wrong path away from drugs, violence and other dangerous behaviors. The kids are excited about it and Program Director Becky Sanchez says after just four weeks of the program, parents started telling her they were already seeing a big difference in their children’s behavior and choices.
A volunteer named Sue told us, “The social workers and Dr. Carole have the right touch with the kids. The kids don’t seem intimidated at all but open up to the questions asked. While I was there, they all participated in an activity where two horses were used to portray things they’d like to leave in the past and things they’d like to see in their future. They divided the corral up the middle where the east side was the past and the west side was the present. The kids wrote their words on duct tape and applied them to the past horse and the future horse. Some of the things I saw them write to leave in the past were anger, drugs and more. Things to see in the future were peace, smiles, relaxation. It was amazing.”
Thank you for helping turn things around for a kid who really needs help from you and the Boys & Girls Club. You’ve given a child a special experience that they’ll remember for their whole lives. It makes a big difference. Please consider making another gift today to sponsor a child at the Club. Your continued partnership helps us keep changing kids’ lives for the better.