My son, David, is a sixth-grader at the Norman Howard School. David has multiple learning disabilities in the areas of speech and language which impact his communication skills especially in the area of comprehension. It has always been a challenge for David to achieve success in school and in social relationships because of his inability to comprehend verbal and non-verbal communication.
Well, last year, the EquiCenter changed David’s life forever! The fifth grade class participated in the EquiCenter’s Horsemanship Program giving David experiential learning in non-verbal communication—a vital skill that cannot be easily taught in the classroom.
Working with the horses and instructors gave David a concrete point of reference with which to measure the effects of his communication style and the impact of his non-verbal messages. David loves horses and learned quickly that his tone and manner directly affected his interaction with them. David began to bond with the horses and learned invaluable social skills including self-control, patience, and kindness. Most importantly, his confidence and self-esteem began to grow. Simultaneously, his relationships with his peers improved as well as his interactions with teachers and other adults.
Thursday was “EquiCenter Day” on the calendar and was met with such enthusiasm. I never was concerned about the classroom material that was missed because the learning that took place at the EquiCenter cannot be taught from a book or with pencil and paper. These essential, life-long skills acquired while interacting with the horses will have immeasurable effects towards success later in David’s life.
The EquiCenter has given us hope, while giving David vital, lifelong learning that is impossible to quantify but is clearly visible in the continuous growth David is experiencing in his daily life. The EquiCenter is still the highlight of David’s school curriculum, and for me, it is a treasured gift for which I am eternally grateful.