For several years, Hodges has supported a local therapeutic riding group, Ponies as Partners, with ribbons and medals for program participants. I was curious to find out more about the program, so I spoke with its Director, Sabina Silvia, who filled me in and shared some photos (below).
Since 2005, Ponies as Partners has offered equine therapies to children and adults at their Middletown, R.I. farm. They currently work with Tiverton High school, the Portsmouth School Department, and other Aquidneck Island agencies serving special needs individuals.
During the summer, Ponies as Partners offers a summer program to Looking Upwards, a local nonprofit agency working with children with special healthcare needs. The students not only receive assitance riding, but also frequently “make a connection” with an animal grooming and doing ground activities. At the end of the eight week program, there is an awards ceremony for campers and their families, during which all of the students who participated at the farm receive certificates and medals.
“The kids are really proud of the progress they made during the summer and the medals gives them a tangible symblol of their success. They hold on to their prize and proudly show it off to whomever is close by” said Silvia. “It makes me smile to see the faces of the children as they chat about the farm and the horses” she added.