We support a new and very innovative learning project with the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, to provide therapy assited by horses for children and young people with special needs, including physical and mental health disabilities and behavioural issues.
We work alongside other Bolivian volunteers, students and professionals to assist directly in the therapy sessions with the horses and by providing practical support in the maintenance of the centre and care of the horses.
In addition, we organise recreational, team building and educational activities for the staff, students and families around inclusion, environmental and social issues.
This equine therpay centre is magical place where the children and their families are welcomed with open arms and their differences are celebrated.
We work alongside physical therapists and pyscologists who provide physical and emotional therapy that complements the work done with the horses. These horses are specially trained to work with the children. It is quite amazing to see how the children relax or gain a new focus when they are in the saddle. Even the fact that they are suddenly “taller” than other people, seems to elevate their self-esteem. Some of the greatest improvements we see are with autistic children for example.
How can you participate as a volunteer?
- Volunteers that can stay for more than one month will be trained to assist in therapy sessions with children, this may involve leading horses, supporting children when on horses, participating in the equine therapy
- Volunteers that have experience of horse can help ride, exercise, take care of the horses
- Volunteers that do not have experience can help with general maintenance of the centre, repairing fences, painting, cleaning up, mucking out etc.
- All volunteers can help welcome and put at ease families, organize games and exercises whilst they wait for their sessions.
- All volunteers can help us with campaigns on awareness and preparing talks, posters, etc for families.
This project may require volunteers to work on Saturdays, but of course we would ensure that volunteers can have a good rest and they can take one or two days off during the week.
As this is a new project we are looking for volunteers with specific skills to strengthen to help us train up local staff, work in the therapy room (not necessarily directly with the horses) and help us give talks to families.
University students or professionals in the following fields would be warmly received and given the opportunity to share their skills and experience and help us learn and evaluate:
- Occupational Therapist
- Educational Psychologists
- Special needs teachers
And of course, we actively seek out volunteers who have considerable experience with horses that can help us care for, exercise and train up the therapy horses.