July 23, 2015

Today was a class that I have been looking forward to for a long while a trip to Rainbow Riders, as I have grown up surrounded by farms that my family have owned. Once we arrived it was a typical rain, drizzle, and fog weather but this did not stop us from enjoying our morning portion of the class. We were introduced to the Program Coordinator for the Rainbow Riders who showed us around their facility. This is a program that I have heard of before, but I have never had a full understanding of what they really do or how they do this. According to the Rainbow Riders some therapeutic benefits of riding are as follows: improved balance and muscle strength, improved coordination and faster reflexes, improved gross and fine motor skills, increased muscular control, stress reduction, increased circulation, increased self-confidence, and increased self-esteem and self-image.

According to the Rainbow Riders their mission statement is to “To offer year-round therapeutic horseback riding programs for children and youth with special physical, cognitive and emotional needs which are adapted to suit the unique needs of the participants.” The program that the Rainbow Riders offers are “ By uniting these children with an equine partner and a team of volunteers, Rainbow Riders provides the rider with a progressive form of therapy, improving the rider’s strength, circulation, muscle tone and sensory integration. Through therapeutic riding, horses help physically and mentally challenged children achieve things that may seem impossible. They help an autistic child make connections and improve communication skills. They lend a six-year-old child, confined since birth to a wheelchair, legs to run through a field.”  During our visit we then had an opportunity to watch their program in action, with two clients on the horses. Each horse had three people one on each side, and one person in the front. The purpose of the side people is to ensure that the participant maintains good posture; as well they are enjoying the treatment. The front person is to lead the horse. Shepherd Bliss acknowledges the many benefits that visiting and working on a farm can bring. He states, “Regular contact with the Earth on a farm offers forms of ecopsychology (p. 179, 2009)”. Another statement Bliss makes with regards to the powers of farms and gardens is “I realised that farms and gardens can be doors, openings into nature, as well as into the self (p.177, 2009)”. This relates to a number of the benefits listed at rainbow riders including self-esteem/ self-image and self-confidence.

Once our portion of the class was over, we then switched with the other group as while we were watching the program they went to the Brother Jim McSheffrey Community Gardens. Once we arrived at the location I was amazed with the conditions that each plot were in for a garden of this age. Currently there is a large amount of municipalities hopping on the community garden bandwagon, which is a great concept they are grasping but once this project is completed, will this be maintained and who will be in charge? Typical from my understanding there is board of director shall we say, which will control the garden with funding, financial, and advocating. Gardening has various therapeutic as well educational benefits for people. Therapeutic in the sense that the gardener can watch their plants/crop grow and then understand the nutritional value behind the plant. Since a child, my family has gardened in recent years not so much as our lifestyle does not permit currently. During our visit Dr. Loeffler spoke on how with her gardening she is able to feed herself for approximately four – five months of the year without having to make a trip to the grocer only for objects and foods that cannot be grown in Newfoundland. I found this to be a great source for people to save money, as often if one-purchase blueberries for instance, they could pay between five – ten dollars per tub. The price of eating healthy is often one that, can and will come with an increased priced compared to eating with whatever may be on sale. For instance, the typical cost of milk in the Metro area ranges from $3.69 – $4.25 approximately. If you are living on one income, and you have a household of three people including yourself the price of milk will drive your already minimal amount of spending money they have dwindling. I would use gardening in a professional practice, as I see this as a way of therapy. Not just as a tool that can be used from client – to – practitioner but one that the client can use as a transferable skill to their family and friends.

In the afternoon portion of our class, we met back at Memorial for an afternoon of discussing and watching information videos about adventure therapy ranging from adventure therapy locations in Sierra Tucson, Arizona to Equine benefits for those with PTSD. According to Priest and Gass (1997), adventure therapy is: “programming aimed at changing [specified] dysfunctional behavior patterns, using adventure experiences as forms of habilitation and rehabilitation.”I find adventure therapy intriguing, as this concept is foreign to me. I feel that in Newfoundland the market would potentially sustain a small adventure therapy facility that would be based within the Avalon Peninsula. This facility could utilize the East Coast Trail for example, as a method of adventure therapy.

It is hard to believe that our next class will be our last for this pilot course.

Until next time,

Ryan Lawlor

Sources:

Buzzell, L., & Chalquist, C. (Eds.). (2009). Ecotherapy: Healing with nature in mind. Sierra Club Book: San Francisco, CA

Adventure Therapy Definitions. (n.d.). Retrieved July 27, 2015, from

http://www.wilderdom.com/adventuretherapy/adventuretherapydefinitions.html
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