Timmins program pairs horses and autistic children, 'It gives him an environment where he feels safe'
Lydia Chubak, CTV Northern Ontario
Published Thursday, June 1, 2017 4:07PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, June 1, 2017 6:05PM EDT
A special bond is created when children are paired with miniature horses and a therapeutic riding program in Timmins dubbed ‘Mini Wheats’ is having a big impact on children with autism.
Kyle is learning how to take care of a care of a Mini Wheats miniature horse.
He's one of six students enrolled in a four week program; hosted by the Timmins Therapeutic Riding Association.
"They are taking charge," said Jean Gibbons, Timmins Therapeutic Riding Association vice president.
"They are learning how to do things. They're building new skills. They have to communicate because they have to be able to tell their horse to ‘walk on’ or ‘whoa’ and learn about movement, turning left and right."
Gibbons said the children and the horses become fast friends.
"Squeaky is like me kinda, because, well, he's hyper and when I'm hyper I'm usually like him," said Dylan Peever, a program participant.
Some students who were here last year enjoyed it so much, they came back.
"Because I missed my horse (Topper)," added Tyler Bastin, a program participant.
The children don't ride the horses, but trained volunteers teach them how to brush them, clean their hooves and walk them outside.
Parents also work alongside their children and they get to see their accomplishments.
"He (Dylan) doesn't have to worry that he's doing something wrong because he's encouraged that everything he does is right. And that's what I mean by life changing. It gives him an environment where he feels safe and not judged and just cared for like he's a champ, because that's what he is," explained Emily Peever, a mother of a program participant.
The Mini Wheats program is also offered to other groups of people of different ages and with varying needs.
It wouldn't be possible without financial sponsorship. To learn more about it, you can find the Timmins Therapeutic Riding Association homepage.