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Confidence and Coincidences

Liliana- Not Afraid

Liliana has been in physical and occupational therapy since she was three. It took her two years to walk on a 1.5 inches high balance beam because she was so scared of falling. This fear translated to the barn, where she was hesitant to ride during her first lesson. She soon mounted Blue, though, and relaxed almost immediately.

Over time, Liliana has become fearless. She looks forward to her lesson every week and can’t wait to get back on the horse. Her mom, Rebecca, said she is so relaxed that you would think she has been riding for years. The barn gives Liliana a sense of connection and peace. When she is at the barn, she is no longer stressed or afraid. 

This confidence has translated to other parts of Liliana’s life. For example, going to the dentist used to be a traumatic experience for her. Since she has been riding, she no longer has meltdowns at the dentist or the doctor’s office. She now has the confidence and bravery to make it through new, intimidating experiences. Liliana is also willing to try more things in physical therapy. She understands and accepts more challenges. 

Liliana has responded very well to her instructors, and to the fact that her instructor has changed several times over the years! Their patience and encouragement has helped her understand that she can do anything she puts her mind to. 

Rammy- Transformed!

When Liliana’s riding lessons were moved to a different day of the week, her mom, Rebecca, was excited to meet some of the other Red Barn families. On the first Saturday of term, Rebecca approached the barn and found that it wasn’t all strangers. A woman was staring at her – a woman who looked oddly familiar.

“This may sound weird to you, but did we meet at a Target?”

Both women laughed as they realized the connection. Nearly five years prior, the two had met in the baby clothes section of a local Target. At the time, both were shopping for the adopted babies who would soon be coming home with them. They chatted for a while about their excitement, thrilled at the random opportunity to get to share it with a stranger who understood. Eventually, however, the two moms-to-be parted ways to continue their shopping. They did not expect to see each other ever again. 

Rebecca formally introduced herself to Kimberly, whose son Rammy was also taking lessons at The Red Barn. They caught up while their children rode, unaware of how their two stories collided. Rebecca and Kimberly marveled at the way The Red Barn was able to act as so much more than a riding facility for their families; it provided a unique sense of community and support, as well.  

As for Rammy, he developed stronger confidence, communication skills, and focus riding at The Red Barn.  He also improved his core strength and muscle tone. 

“I sincerely believe in the physical and cognitive benefits of riding because I’ve seen it with my own eyes. The barn has transformed his life. I don’t know what we would do without it!”

  • Rammy’s mom, Kimberly

 

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She Lived

The Accident

On January 10th, 2009, we came home from the baby shower for my son. Someone had left a loaded gun in their vehicle. When they tried to remove it, it dry fired. It went through the seat and the door when my daughter Hailey Grace was walking around the side of the car. She was hit on impact with shrapnel from the bullet. The doctors told us she wouldn’t live through the night. That day is now known as ‘Hailey Grace Day’ because she did. She lived.

  • Hailey Grace’s mom, Christy

In the blink of an eye, Christy Leslie went from having a typical child to having one who is legally blind, cognitively impaired, and suffering from PTSD. After the accident, Hailey Grace was forced to re-learn everyday activities most people take for granted; she spent months in the hospital learning how to walk, talk, and eat. She also struggled to find adequate therapeutic opportunities. Hailey Grace graduated from her occupational therapy program because there was “nothing more they could do” for her physical and speech impairments. The Red Barn not only offers physical benefits, but also a sense of comfort and hope that traditional therapies cannot. 

 

 

She LIVED, and Now She Rides

Being at The Red Barn has given Hailey Grace confidence and autonomy, on top of the physical benefits. Hailey Grace’s instructor pushes her to do things because she knows she is capable. She makes her clip on the reins and buckle the saddle’s girth underneath the horse, which strengthens Hailey Grace’s right-sided weakness. She has also learned the meaning of cause-and-effect; if she doesn’t do what she’s supposed to do, then she’s not going to get to do what she wants to do: ride horses. 

Hailey Grace loves The Red Barn so much that she even created a braille calendar so that she can count down the days until her next riding lesson, which are marked on the calendar with a sticker. 

The Leslie family now celebrates the anniversary of Hailey Grace’s accident with cupcakes and happiness. They don’t want the memory to haunt Hailey Grace and tear her down, but rather to empower her. They want Hailey Grace to look back on the day and remember it as “the day God decided that I was going to live and I was going to prove to everybody that I could do anything.” The Red Barn has helped Hailey Grace find the ability, both physically and emotionally, to prove that.

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A Home Away from Home

No Care in the World at the Barn

James laid across the hammock in front of the white barn, relaxing as his instructor, Barratt, gently rocked it back and forth. His sister, Lily, returned from a visit to see the goats and bunnies on the lower half of the property. She was hand-in-hand with her instructor, Alexis, who bent down to listen as Lily whispered something into her ear. Both children were giggling wildly, without any apparent care in the world. 

For years, James and Lily’s mom questioned whether this day would ever come. Repeated traumas threatened to steal their childhood innocence and no amount of traditional therapy seemed able to repair it. The two experienced a wide range of after effects, from separation anxiety to generalized anger, which only seemed to worsen with time. A family friend recommended The Red Barn. 

A Safe Place to Belong and Learn

Lily, an avid animal lover, was instantly hooked. She found that she was able to bring her love of stuffed animals to life while simultaneously gaining confidence and independence. At the barn, Alexis encouraged Lily to make her own decisions, whether that meant choosing her horse for the week or choosing which direction she wished to ride. The Red Barn provided Lily a safe place to belong and be herself, which translated to other areas of her life. Though still shy, she no longer dreads going to school. She learned to actually enjoy it.

James was slower to attach to the barn. Unlike Lily, he was initially afraid of the horses; to a boy of barely five, they were larger than life. That all changed when he started taking weekly lessons. He began by establishing a close bond with Barratt over their mutual love of nature. James excitedly examined rock after rock by her side, as she shared a constant stream of information which he soaked in like a sponge. As he grew to love and trust Barratt, he also grew to trust the horses. James had confidence that Barratt would never place him in harm’s way. After weeks of ground lessons, he finally agreed to ride. He then began riding weekly, with each session being just a little longer than the last one. At the barn, he got to quench his constant thirst for knowledge while regulating his emotions through riding and playing. 

Therapeutic Benefits of Riding are Undeniable

Neither James nor Lily was comfortable establishing boundaries of their respective comfort zones, and they each had to learn the value of the word “no.” Outside of home, Lily would merely shut down, while James was more likely to act out. Each is now willing to speak up when asked to do something they don’t feel comfortable doing. They learned to be assertive.  

Mom largely attributed their success to the relationship between instructor and child; without the support and trust of their instructors, neither James nor Lily would have ever been willing to get on a horse. She believed the therapeutic benefits of riding, however, are undeniable.  

I have heard that horses help with kids who have been through trauma. I have noticed in our own involvement in lessons that it has given my children confidence. They work with an animal that is so much bigger than them. The instructors empower them and help them realize they can do anything they put their mind to. Riding the horses gives them a sense of control because they think they are the ones steering the horse, even though the horse is under control of the horse handlers. Everything about the lessons help them not only in their barn work, but also at home.  –James and Lily’s Mom

These benefits only seemed to increase over time, as each child spent more and more time on horseback. Although the physical benefits of horseback riding were clear, James and Lily illustrated the emotional benefits, as well. 

Something to Look Forward To

As they headed out the barn’s gates, James and Lily reluctantly waved goodbye to Barratt, Alexis, and all of the horses. Until they returned, they wouldn’t stop thinking about what the next visit would hold. James wondered which rocks and plants Barratt would show him under the microscope. Lily looked forward to wrapping her arms around Mazie, her favorite horse of the week. Mom slept a little easier, knowing her kids had found a home-away-from-home.

Alexis, left and Barratt, right While Barratt is no longer at the barn, the love she gave the students and horses while here will never be forgotten. Barratt, you are missed!

 

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Gabriel and Arya Then and Now

Gabriel riding

The Search for Help

Even before Gabriel had an official diagnosis, we were seeing signs of developmental delay. He was late to walk, struggled with some fine motor skills, and was very delayed with his speech. For the first two or three years of his life, every verbal communication was monosyllabic. He would not answer questions with “yes” and”no.” He did not really respond to directions. In spite of our involvement with early intervention and his pediatrician, we felt like there was something more we could do. In speaking with other parents, I know this is a common sentiment. This was frustrating, because we weren’t certain where to look outside the medical community.

We passed a horse riding place every day on the way to school and Gabriel began pointing out horses.  In an effort to expand his team of therapists, we started working with Puzzle Piece as a supplement to his services. Renee from Puzzle Piece noticed Gabriel’s fascination with horses, and was delighted when we asked about equestrian therapy. We immediately found one program, but we were told the wait list was years. YEARS!

Gabriel then and now- at 4 and now at 11- still smiling and riding!

Putting Two Words Together

When The Red Barn was really starting to put roots down, Renee mentioned she had worked with Joy in the past, and suggested we call her to inquire about availability. From there, everything else fell into place like magic. Gabriel was able to start riding soon thereafter; he had just turned 4 years old. Both he and our family fell in love with the staff, the barn and most important: the horses.

What was an interest became a passion. If there was a horse within 1,000 feet, Gabriel would spot it and point it out! I remember one time he proclaimed, “HORSE!” and I told him, “no buddy… I don’t think that is a horse,” thinking there was no way he could make that determination from so far away. We kept driving, and as we closed in on the location I gasped. “Gabriel – that IS a horse! How did you know from so far away?” The answer was obvious. “Horse. Barn.” I laughed. He laughed.  

He loves it here. It is impossible to come up with just one story to share because there are so many. Gabriel’s lessons are filled with smiles and laughter. There have been so many wonderful volunteers and staff members that have connected with him and helped him. The Red Barn is the first place he put two words together when he one day told a horse to “walk on.” There were tears of joy and gleeful clapping! He has ridden backwards, trotted through most of his lesson – thank you handlers and side walkers for those – and even ridden a miniature pony during our time here.

He looks forward to it every week and knows when I get him from school on riding day that we are heading here. He has gone from finally putting two words together to helping direct his lessons. It is amazing the growth he shows every time he comes.

What Has Changed

Riding helped Gabriel develop more core strength, has helped with following directions and discipline, and believe it or not, continues to aid him with his verbal development. Gabriel grew with The Red Barn.

Now, in addition to “horse,” “walk on,” “let’s trot!” and other commands, Gabriel can also tell you if he wants to go ride in the barn or do the pirate trail. He can tell you what horse both he and Arya rode that day. He can tell you he wants “chicken and fries” or “‘roni pizza.” Decision making, following directions, vocabulary, the strength to jump up and down…  a lot of kids take these things for granted. At The Red Barn, every new accomplishment makes our hearts soar, and when I think back on everything we’ve worked on in 8 years with Gabriel, I genuinely believe that we are far, far better off with Gabriel having a favorite place to be, around his favorite people with his favorite animals.

Now Arya Rides Too!

His sister, Arya, and I used to sit on the sides at every lesson and play with the trucks or jump in the puddles after it rained or walk around and say hello to the horses in their stalls. One day, she asked Ms. Joy when she would be allowed to ride too and now, luckily, she rides as well. She loves coming here. She loves learning and is so proud of what she accomplishes every time.

Arya then and now
Arya has been riding at The Red Barn since 2014. She has always been a big helper. Her latest project has been creating activity books for the other kids to use when learning about our horses! We have loved watching you grow, Arya!

 

We have grown with the barn over the years, from being able to get into lessons immediately to there being a wait list and triple the staff. All of the people we have encountered have met the diverse needs of both of our children, as those have continually changed. They facilitate shifts with laughter, joy, and fun, and it is amazing to watch and be part of. We are lucky to be part of The Red Barn community and I am so glad they are part of my children’s lives.

– Gabriel and Arya’s mom and dad

Interested in volunteering? Get more information here or contact us.

Want to help more kids like Gabriel and Arya ride at The Red Barn? Give now!

This is called independence and strength!
Gabriel and Arya getting their student awards from Danielle Burroughs, their instructor
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Happiness and Solace at The Red Barn

Kristina’s Story

By the time Kristina was three years old, she had been deserted by both parents and had lost her closest friend. She was adopted by her grandmother, Carol.  Carol tried her hardest to provide Kristina with the type of love and support she needed. Kristina, however, still struggled to accept the losses in her life. She stopped playing with other children and would instead watch them from afar. She was soon diagnosed with clinical depression.

Kristina began talk and play therapy where she used dolls to express her feelings. After nearly a full year, she was able to say, “I’m mad at my mom.” This therapy alone was not enough to help her, though. She continued to struggle with empathy, self-confidence, and overcoming the feelings of inadequacy she felt from being abandoned. No matter how hard Carol tried to convince Kristina that it was her mom’s own problems that caused her to leave, Kristina continued to blame herself.  

Carol was familiar with another family who had been helped by The Red Barn in a time of tragedy and loss. Their experience prompted Carol to enroll Kristina in weekly riding lessons. Carol watched as, over time, Kristina developed self-esteem and independence. The horses and peers at the barn have taught her such empathy that Kristina says she plans to give back to The Red Barn by volunteering when she is old enough to do so. 

Kristina has finally found a place where she is accepted and loved. She knows that no matter how hard life might be at times, she will always find happiness and solace at The Red Barn. It has helped Kristina restore her faith in “family.”

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Budding and Blossoming- Nick and Lee’s Story

Nick and Lee

“We had tried most everything to bridge the communication gap caused by Lee’s autism, but it wasn’t until The Red Barn that we were truly able to communicate clearly and effectively. The Red Barn has helped Lee develop confidence, independence, and the ability to work well with others.” -Lee’s mom

 

For five years now, our students Nick and Lee have been coming to The Red Barn for their weekly workgroup. Every Friday morning during terms, Nick and Lee labor alongside staff and volunteers to make sure the horses are cared for and the property is beautiful. The workgroup was designed to enable some of our older students to experience a routine work schedule and list of chores to complete within an allotted time. The goal is to help students reach a higher level of independence in their home lives. We also hope to build their confidence and skill set to one day enter the working world.

Nick and Lee’s first few terms introduced them to a wide set of chores, which they tackled with staff assistance. Examples of these tasks include cleaning water troughs, scrubbing and refilling horse feed and water buckets, cleaning the goat pen, and many, many others. Staff and volunteers would lead the two boys through these tasks, breaking the tasks down step by step. Slowly, the staff stepped back, encouraging the boys to lead the transition from one step or task to another.

Growing Independence

As the staff have slowly stepped back, Nick and Lee have blossomed. Their independence has grown with every term. One morning, as staff offered our normal assistance to muck Black Flight’s stall, Lee replied, “Actually, I have this one by myself, thank you though.” He quietly toiled away, finishing the stall without any assistance. A short while later, Nick waved the staff help off when we grabbed brushes to help them scrub water troughs.

Both students have also participated in multiple terms of The Red Barn’s Job Skills program. Job Skills is a more formalized version of their workgroup. The instructor introduces and coaches participants on the soft skills required for employment. Such skills include courtesy, personal appearance, time management, and showing initiative, among others. Most sessions have anywhere from five to ten participants. Teamwork and communication are strongly emphasized so participants will have experience working with others before they enter the working world.

The Job Skills program has greatly accelerated both Nick and Lee’s growth and independence. Staff no longer directly assist in their tasks, but merely oversee their work. Nick and Lee are now capable of thoroughly completing every step of a task without issue. They may occasionally need a reminder to stay on task when they get too talkative, but their chattiness reflects another way they’ve grown.

A Budding Friendship

“I have truly enjoyed watching their friendship grow over the years. They have both developed into such kind, thoughtful, and hardworking young men.” – Becky Shuler, Nick and Lee’s volunteer helper

Back when the workgroup first began, Nick and Lee would only speak a sentence or two to one another before moving on from the conversation. As time went on, they began joking back and forth, as Nick often asks Lee if he has ants in his pants or the time Lee pretended to be a hitchhiker while Nick rode back to the white barn to dismount. I can’t help but laugh along with them, largely because of how genuinely funny they are. But it is also because I am thrilled seeing them feel comfortable and confident enough to emerge from their shells. The two have become close friends not only to each other but also to the staff and volunteers they work beside.

Nick is a huge Alabama fan and was dismayed to see me wearing an Auburn cap one day. Since then, he often takes friendly shots at me whenever I have any sort of goof up, saying, “Connor, you Auburn fan!” Nick also has a near-photographic memory. If you tell him something that he interprets as important, he will check on it every week. He met my parents at the 2016 Red Barn Christmas party and still asks how they are doing every week.

Lee loves technology and science-fiction, especially space travel. He has brilliant ideas for different robots and schematics he could design to make life easier at the Barn. He even came up with his own idea for a novel called “Terror in Space,” which he plans to adapt into a movie. Before lessons and during work breaks, he will regale us with fine details of the plot. However, when it is time to work, Lee will lock in and focus on his task (until he gets asked if he has ants in his pants).

Learning to Ride

Since 2017 Nick and Lee have been taking a joint riding lesson. Lee did ride for a few years prior to the workgroup, so he often serves as a positive role model in carrying out their instructor’s directions. Lee rides with only a horse handler and is working towards steering his horse off lead at the walk. For his part, Nick does a great job following his friend’s lead and has shown steady improvement. He initially struggled with leg cramps that would lead to early dismounts. But he has built up his leg strength and balance to the point he can stay on for the duration of an hour-long lesson without any pain.

Friday mornings are a highlight of my time here at the Barn. Seeing the two friends embrace before parting ways after each lesson encourages me to reflect on my own journey here. I hope to continue working alongside both Nick and Lee much more in the future. Watching the two of them grow has been one of the most fulfilling experiences I have had since beginning work at the Red Barn.

–  Connor Samples

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Donor Spotlight- In Their Words

You know how a box of Valentine’s Day chocolate is like a gamble? Like a gamble that you ALWAYS win because ALL of the chocolates are delicious? That’s kind of what our donors are like. We have lots of different flavors of donors, and they’re all precious to us!

Colleen and Jackson
“I support and volunteer at The Red Barn because I’ve seen first hand the incredible difference that horse therapy has made in the lives of these children. I have witnessed improvement in balance, core strength and social skills. Of equal importance is seeing their pride and confidence grow as they participate in the various programs. This truly is a place of faith, hope, and love. Keep up the great work!” Colleen Samples, Volunteer & Donor

There are event sponsors, monthly donors at all levels, end-of-year donors, Facebook donors, Facebook birthday fundraisers, memorial and honoraria donors, people who give up their birthday money to support the barn, family foundations that give monthly, family foundations that give a few times a year, small businesses that donate, large businesses that donate, people who give through their employer’s United Way campaign. The list could go on forever!

So what do all of these amazing supporters have in common? Our donors love the mission, love the people, and LOVE seeing how impactful their donations are in the lives of our students!

Naturally, we need to hear it “from the horse’s mouth.” We asked, “Why do you give?”

“I give because of the huge difference The Red Barn makes in the lives of their students and the families that benefit from the impact.”

“The needs that are met by the staff and resources at The Barn are too numerous for me to name, but the number of people who reap the benefits more than justify any donation.”

“If you visit and observe how many people invest in each child, each horse, and each lesson one would come away so impressed and grateful!  Everything is handled and planned for on such an organized and professional level. I am challenged to do something in response.”

“Their mission, the level of quality, the way they impact lives.”

“I know the people and ministry behind the Red Barn. I trust in their calling and know God is making a difference in families because of The Red Barn.”

“The great impact the programs have on families and the need to serve more families.

The heart of these donors is to make a difference, make an IMPACT in the lives of our students and their families. All of our staff, parents, volunteers, and students are so very grateful. Take a moment and watch some videos of life-changing transformations on our YouTube channel today! And if you find yourself inspired to give any amount, give here.

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What Are Red Barn Staff Members Thankful For?

While there may not be enough room on the internet for ALL our people are thankful for, we are going to give it a shot! The Red Barn has an extremely grateful staff.

Joy (AKA Mama Joy) is thankful:

  • When I meet someone in the community and they tell me they’ve heard about someone who has benefitted from our programs.
  • When everyone pitches in to make sure the stalls get cleaned and all the envelopes get addressed.
  • When everyone works together and we fly like The Blue Angels.
  • When people say they are praying for us.
  • When the temperature doesn’t get below freezing so we don’t have to worry about pipes freezing.
  • When we are able to get the horses all in before it starts raining cats and dogs.
  • For the wagon that helps us carry the shavings to the stalls.
  • When someone drops off a whole load of supplies that they’ve been collecting and it’s exactly what we need. There are no coincidences!
  • For loyal friends who stick together to share faith, hope, and love.
  • For BIG fans in the lower barn.

Sylvie says that she is thankful for:

  • Finalizing the adoption with Daisa and having her as my sister.
  • Having an amazing family willing to love everyone no matter what.
  • Having a dad I am proud of, and being able to work with him here.
  • Having an amazing family let me keep my horses at their property so I get to see them every day.
  • Friends that, even when they move 12 hours away, stay in touch with you and come and visit.
  • An amazing staff that is willing to help teach me AND an amazing workplace that cares so much about their staff and their horses! It’s been really amazing to get to do what I have always wanted to do and have coworkers that are so tightly knit. They always have your back and are willing to take the extra second to explain something to you or help you- on or off the clock!
  • Last but not least, I am thankful for God and the number of people in my life that show his unconditional love!

Continue reading What Are Red Barn Staff Members Thankful For?

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Partnering to Improve the Lives of Children with Disabilities and Communication Disorders

Children with communication disorders and other disabilities are often misunderstood by others who come in contact with them. For many children, these misunderstandings can result in undesirable encounters with law enforcement officers, some even resulting in arrest and imprisonment. Very little training is provided for law enforcement officers in how to appropriately communicate with individuals who have communication disorders and/or disabilities. Those who have communication disorders or disabilities often struggle with responding appropriately in stressful situations, understanding and following directions, and complying with direct orders. Children with these kinds of disabilities are not regularly exposed to law enforcement officers and taught how to respond correctly. Minimal training for officers, as well as limited interactions between the two groups, can create a perfect storm of confusion, distrust, and misunderstanding.

What is being done about this issue? I’m glad you asked! The Red Barn has partnered with the JAYC Foundation on an initiative to close the gap between children with disabilities and law enforcement officers. The American Legion Child Welfare Foundation has awarded a grant that will provide the resources to create an educational video for officers, as well as a social story for children. The instructional video will be made available online. The social story will also be available to download, which will explain to children what they should do if approached by a police officer. Additional resources for parents will be provided free of charge on the JAYC website.

Filming the video at The Red Barn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone involved in this project hopes that schools (many of which now have a full-time police presence) and police precincts will incorporate these free resources to better prepare for interactions between these two wonderful groups of people.

The Red Barn and other similar agencies around the country will extend opportunities to local law enforcement agencies to have opportunities to interact with horses. What do horses have to do with this? Well, horses cannot speak and tell you what they are thinking. They use non-verbal indicators to communicate with others. While most of their communication is very different from humans, there are similarities. Teaching adults how to read the body language of horses and how to approach them safely helps prepare them for working with individuals with communication disorders.

Our very own founder, Joy O’Neal, has been working diligently on this project with Jaycee Dugard, Rebecca Bailey, Laura Vogtle, Jan Rowe, and Shelley Jones, as well as numerous parents of children with communication disorders. We want to thank all of these organizations and individuals for continually working toward the goal of making our world a more inclusive and understanding place!

Lights, camera, action!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are so excited about this amazing opportunity to further serve children with disabilities, improving their lives, and teaching others how to communicate effectively with them. The potential exists for amazing progress to be made in this area, so please pray with us for the success of this program!

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Our Invaluable Summer Interns

Amazing Interns

The Red Barn could not operate with just our staff alone. As hard as we work, it is physically impossible for our small staff to serve 100 kids a week all while caring for 16 horses, 4 goats, 3 bunnies, 2 cats, and a 31-acre property that needs constant upkeep and repair. Thankfully, the barn is blessed with help from an amazing group of volunteers! And every summer, a number of high school volunteers pursue an internship at the Red Barn. This year we had six such interns: Abi, Alyssa, Cianan, Emily, Olivia, and Taylor.

Our summer interns help with everything! From side-walking and horse-handling in group riding lessons, to assisting in unmounted camps, and helping complete the daily and weekly tasks necessary to the barn’s operation. Their help is invaluable, especially when factoring in the grueling summertime heat and humidity. It’s not easy mucking stalls when you are sweat-soaked and exhausted after an 8-hour day, but our interns never once complained.

They also fill important roles as peer helpers to our students. Teenage interns and volunteers help bridge the age gap between our instructors and students, enabling younger students to feel more comfortable and willing to engage. Every child and young teen needs someone close to their age that they can both relate to and look up to. I can’t think of better peer role models than our six summer interns.

We cannot thank our interns enough for their hard work and sincerely hope our symbiotic relationship provided them with plenty of valuable knowledge and experience. Working with the population we serve can provide insight for any young person interested in pursuing careers in education, counseling, occupational therapy, and many other fields. Furthermore, and possibly even more importantly, this kind of work serves to build empathy and compassion.

Our internship program also requires each intern complete a research-based project. The projects this year included:

• A promotional video for the Red Barn
• A 5-page research paper covering insurance and accessible riding
• A spinning wheel that offers students options in a fun, engaging way
• A PowerPoint connecting Christ to horseback riding
• A felt board to be used in unmounted lessons that works on a student’s fine motor skills
• A school curriculum designed to be accessible and engaging to students of all kinds

I speak for the entire staff when I say that we are impressed by our interns’ amazing creativity and hard work. All six of you played invaluable roles in making this Summer term successful. Thank you so much Abi, Alyssa, Cianan, Emily, Olivia, and Taylor for all your dedication!