Live in the Yakima Valley - Special Services for Special Kids: Part I

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Joe Schmitt writes a weekly blog called The Good Life, featuring information about the region’s history, culture, climate and economy.  The blog also showcases new residents, clubs and organizations, outdoor recreational opportunities and local events.

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Special Services for Special Kids: Part I

June 01, 2010

These are exciting times for Pegasus Project, the Yakima Valley’s therapeutic riding center. Like many of the organizations and programs offering innovative services for Yakima’s children with special needs, Pegasus Project is celebrating new achievements and looking forward to developments on the horizon.

Pegasus Project: Taking the Reins For the past year, Thursday has been Cole’s favorite day of the week because it’s “Pegasus day.” At six years, Cole is unaware of the benefits to his motor development, coordination and balance or improvements in communication skills and self-esteem as he begins to use his reins and ride independently. He knows only that, for one hour, he gets to ride Rebel.

Founded in 2003 as a pilot project serving only seven riders with one instructor, Pegasus Project now serves more than 40 riders each week and has been certified as a North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA) Premier Accredited Center. Thanks to the generosity of the Yakima Valley community and the work of dedicated volunteers known fondly as “Pegasus Pals,” an indoor riding arena and newly expanded trail system at Tumbleweed Ranch in Naches allow riders to participate in therapeutic riding and equine-assisted activities year-round. Community support has helped provide new instructors and new horses. “There’s no waiting list right now,” says Leo Craven, Executive Director. “We’re able to put riders on horses as the applications come in.” In the past, potential riders sometimes waited months to find a spot on the schedule.

A new class on the horizon will provide equine therapy “to youth who it might not be an appropriate fit to engage in riding, whether because of fear or other challenges,” says Craven. The new class would still allow participants to work on horsemanship through handling and leading. Pegasus Project serves all ages, youth to adult, and provides services to meet a variety of different needs, including physical, emotional and developmental challenges. Riders come from throughout the valley. Pegasus currently serves riders from Naches to Hera and Mabton. Volunteers make Pegasus Project programs happen. More than 75 volunteers join riders on the trail and in the arena each week, leading horses or walking alongside riders to offer physical and emotional support as needed. “Even after a long day when you feel you don’t have the energy to give, the kids fill you up with their energy, with their joy,” says Judie Brown, Pegasus Project Volunteer. “That’s the gift they give to you. Sharing their joy makes it worthwhile.”

For more information about Pegasus Project programs, for rider applications, to volunteer, or for the latest information about fabulous fundraisers, visit www.pegasusrides.com.


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