Imagine a place of celebration. It’s a very special place where they celebrate remarkable children every day. And they call them, Rising Riders. It takes determination to qualify as a Rising Rider. Determination to hold their head up, sit upright, strive for balance and sometimes even breathe. Or smile. Ride On St. Louis Inc. Equine Assisted Activities Therapy, is that place of celebration where children with a wide range of physical, cognitive and/or emotional challenges can experience the loving interaction between horse, student and therapist to build self confidence and master new skills.
Located near Imperial, MO, Ride On St. Lois (ROSL) was founded by Marita Wassman in 1998 after she'd been approached by an occupational therapist who had been organizing sports for children with special needs. Since a riding program in their area was in demand Marita set out to form the organization with 2 horses and 8 students. There has been a waiting list every year thereafter. Today there are 8 horses helping children smile at ROSL. A staff of 10 runs the program, of those, 3 are certified instructors, 1 physical therapist, 1 special education teacher. There is also 1 Registered Nurse. On a weekly basis at least 30 volunteers support the program. To date more than 200 children have come to this place of celebration and smiles to learn to be, Rising Riders.
ROSL is Premier Accredited by Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) International, member of the Equine Facilitated Mental Health Association (EFMHA) and member of the American Hippotherapy Association (AHA).
At ROSL, 200 plus volunteers, and carefully selected therapy horses, donate over 8,000 hours of volunteer service a year. These volunteers run the daily operations of maintenance, horse care and sidewalking, which directly assist riders during the lessons. Jackie Greer is one of those volunteers.
Jackie started volunteering for ROSL in 2009. "I was looking for somewhere my son and I could volunteer together, ROSL was a perfect fit as they are 10 minutes from our house and I love horses, and helping people realize their dreams. We have 3 horses of our own and I know personally the therapeutic benefits you can receive just from being with them." Jackie said. Jackie is also very involved in fund raising and has helped organize ACTHA trail rides each of the past 3 years.
Rachel is a Rising Rider … I'd like to share her thoughts from a paper she wrote … "As a person with autism, I feel I do not have much control, but when I am on top of a big, strong horse I feel that I have more control of my world. Horses are like autistic people because they cannot talk. Even though a horse cannot talk they are graceful and strong. When I am riding a horse I feel that I am strong and graceful. The confidence that I feel when I ride gives me the freedom I wish I had all the time. As I ride the horse I feel very independent. For once I feel that I can accomplish something without anyone’s help. When we run I try to imagine never having autism."
ROSL operates in a very holistic manner focusing on emotional and physical improvements as well as learning disabilities. Please have a look at ROSL on their website www.rideonstl.org to meet the horses and children, and put a smile on your face.
Have a fun day and please share this blog with your friends. Let's help them help. God Bless ~ Dutch