Age is irrelevant when it comes to the sensory pleasure of running your fingers through a horse’s mane. With advanced age, however, it can be more than just the tactile feel that is wonderful, it can be the memories and emotions evoked through that action that lighten the heart and bring a smile to the face. This was clearly the case for seniors in the Memory Care household at Passavant yesterday, and for the students involved in sharing their horse, Beauty, it was memories in the making.
With great pleasure, the Adventures Program accompanied Candy Dwire and two high school students from the Community Based Instruction Program at St Stephen’s on their weekly volunteer visit next door. “It’s a great way for the kids to feel a sense of self-worth”, Candy said, “and the idea that the kids will gain the desire and ability to transfer these skills to keep that going after graduation is what it’s all about!” Candy explained that the students had to go through a rigorous vetting in order to even begin volunteering, including training, background clearances, and a TB test. “It was an effort,” Candy explained, “but the kids are able to see it wasn’t that bad, and worth it in the end”.
Candy shared that our neighbors at Passavant have been a little leery of forming relationships with our clients due to challenges in the past related to sporadic attendance. It’s been the nature of working in mental health, kids have difficulty and it’s hard to keep commitments. “But this program is different”, Candy smiled, “it’s my job to get the kids who can handle it to the commitments that they have made” and, it’s making a difference in our community. Not only have the staff at Passavant begun to trust this relationship again, they have recommended St. Stephen’s students from the Community Based Instruction Program to “decorate the town” for upcoming Halloween festivities.
We are so glad that we could add “a little Beauty” to keep these great things rolling. Stay tuned for our next “Adventure” with Community Based Instruction where we plan to bring Taco the donkey across the street and up the elevator with his little booties and bum bag to spread some sensory love.
Glade Run Adventures provides personalized experiences in nature, including horseback riding lessons, guided trail rides, animal care classes, gardening classes, farm to table cooking experiences and nature themed arts and crafts. These activities are prefect for families, school groups, home schoolers, girl and boy scout troops, youth groups and parties.
Glade Run Adventures is conveniently located north of Pittsburgh in Zelienople, just minutes from route 79 and Cranberry Township.
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About the Author
Julie Wahlenmayer, Director of Adventures
Julie has been with Glade Run since 1996, shortly after graduating from Slippery Rock University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies. Her experiences in animal and horticultural assisted therapies at Glade Run lead Julie to complete her Master’s Degree in Counseling at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Julie’s desire to connect individuals with the natural world around them, combined with her equestrian training and love of gardening, helped to shape our Adventures Program into the exemplary program that it is today. Julie’s vision for Glade Run Adventures is for it to become a model for social, emotional and physical growth and learning.