Therapeutic Horse-Riding Program Needs Volunteers

WEST PENN TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- A nonprofit organization that offers therapeutic horse-riding lessons to people with disabilities needs volunteers.

Off the beaten path near Tamaqua is Horses and Horizons Therapeutic Learning Center. Since 1993, Elaine and Harvey Smith have combined two of their passions in life: horses and assisting others.

"Last year, we celebrated our 25th year of operation, serving riders with all types of disabilities," Elaine Smith said.

This nonprofit organization in West Penn Township offers therapeutic horse riding to those with disabilities. Studies have shown that those who participate can enhance their physical, intellectual, and emotional skills.

"There's one rider, in particular, we had a few years ago. I asked her why she liked to come here. She just looked at me and said, 'it makes me feel good inside.' What more could you ask for?" asked Harvey Smith.

This year, the program runs from the middle of April through October with riding sessions taking place on weeknights.

Elaine and Harvey do most of the work all by themselves, but this is where you can help: the Smiths are looking for volunteers to help at the center with year 26 of the program right around the corner.

"I've seen autistic children speak for the first time to their horse. We've seen riders who were unable to walk who then become strong enough to walk. As far as developing self-esteem for riders and social skills for a lot of them, it really has helped," Elaine said.

Volunteers need to be at least 14 years old, go through a four-hour orientation, and be able to volunteer at least once a week. Get more information at their website here.

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