These qualities make horses perfect animals for engaging therapy for children and adults with special needs and disabilities, at-risk youth and veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (P.T.S.D.) and Traumatic Brain Injuries (T.B.I.). Sherri Russell, executive/program director of Small Miracles Therapeutic Equestrian Center, Inc. says, “Horses help encourage speech, are social and emotional by nature and react to our actions. They are non-judgmental and help us to live in the moment and love how we are, no matter the issue.”
Why does the therapy work?
“Our therapies provide a bridge to allow other therapies like speech, occupational and physical therapies to be enhanced in a freer environment,” says Sherri. Physically, equine-assisted activities improve fitness, balance, coordination, motor control and strength. Learning visual/special perception, listening, communication, concentration and awareness skills can open a new world for a therapy recipient. Small Miracles therapy can also develop self-esteem, leadership, responsibility, respect and teamwork.
Small Miracles offers three main therapy programs which are typically 8-week sessions. The Therapeutic Horsemanship Program offers equine-assisted activities to strengthen the cognitive, physical, emotional-social development of individuals with special needs. Their Positive Youth Development Program is designed for at-risk youth and children who may have experienced traumatic and difficult situations. The Horses Empower Heroes Program is specifically for veterans with P.T.S.D. and T.B.I. Sherri says emotionally, “Many veterans suffer from combat-related trauma and stressors, and turn to substance use to numb their emotional pain. The V.A. at Mountain Home, and outpatient services send to us veterans who desire to reintegrate with their families, the community and the workforce.”
Small Miracles Therapeutic Equestrian Center, Inc. has been providing this special equine-assisted therapy since 1995 and is a Christian-based, non-profit organization and a United Way of Greater Kingsport Agency.
Located at 1026 Rock Springs Drive in Kingsport, Small Miracles sits on a beautiful 11-acre farm maintained by a wonderful staff and volunteers. They presently have 13 therapy horses and both indoor and outdoor therapy facilities. They assist many organizations, like Frontier Health group homes, Girls, Inc. and Cora Cox Academy as well as city and county schools. Many families from the Tri-Cities area receive invaluable therapy services from Small Miracles, including the Cataen family - Scott, Trish and their daughter Johanna.
Christmas is coming and you can be a part of the wonderful therapy programs by purchasing your Christmas tree from Small Miracles. Their 19th annual Christmas Tree and Wreath Sale is going on now. Orders for fresh-cut, carefully-selected trees and wreaths from western North Carolina are being taken now through Nov. 22.
The trees will be ready for pickup at the Small Miracles Christmas Open House on Sunday, Nov. 26 from 1 to 4 p.m. The community is invited to attend the open house to meet the staff and enjoy refreshments. While there, you can also purchase premium nuts, fruits and candies for Christmas gifts. All funds raised go to therapies, horse care and farm operations.
To support Small Miracles Therapeutic Equestrian Center, Inc. this Christmas by ordering Christmas trees, wreaths, nuts, fruits and candies, call Mary at 423-384-0894 or email [email protected] To volunteer or for therapy information, call 423-349-1111 or visit www.small-miracles.org.