Graduation from Head Start

HS wagonJune 10th marked the conclusion of ThorpeWood’s first series of sessions of Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) for the the 14 Head Start programs in Frederick County.  We shared the news about this exciting partnership at the beginning of the Winter/Spring session, and we wanted to share with you a bit of information about the end.  Rest assured – this isn’t “the end.”  We have a fabulous Head Start Horse Camp planned for this summer, and then we are right back working with these fantastic children in the Head Start program next Fall.  By June 10, 2014,  240 Head Start children will have graduated from ThorpeWood’s EAL program.    

Over the course of 11 weeks, with a few days  off for Easter, ThorpeWood welcomed over 240 youngsters– ages three, four and five – to Stoney Lick Farm and shared the glorious natural opportunities ThorpeWood has to offer. Specifically, the children experienced ThorpeWood’s Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) program, which, by partnering with horses, helped them to learn better ways of communicating and deepening relationships. HS horse Growth showed up in many recognizable ways as is evident from this parent’s note to us:

“I just wanted to let you know how valuable your work with the children is; my daughter has dealt with severe anxiety, sensory perception, and mood regulation, we have worked with counselors and other professionals to help her. She has been able to use what she learned with the horses to help her identify her feelings, manage her stress levels, and communicate her needs as well as recognize body cues she uses to calm herself down. These are valuable skills for her and have helped her so much as she struggles to manage her anxiety. She benefited from the EAL program tremendously and I can’t thank you enough for your work with the kids. I am so grateful for you and all those who make the program awesome! ”   

HS ballYou cannot imagine how that note made us feel!  To know that we (the horses primarily) had impacted a young life in such a way, made us feel as if we truly succeeded in helping achieve Head Start’s mission:  to foster stable family relationships, enhance children’s physical and emotional well-being, and establish an environment to develop strong cognitive skills.

And the gifts of this program don’t end with completion.  Read this wonderful statement about the lasting impact Head Start had on him from Randy Bumgardner, General Manager of the Blair House, which is the guest house for the President of the United States (located across from the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue.)

“It (Head Start) was for me a way to make new discoveries every day and that interest in learning is still alive.  That spark, that interest, that desire for learning had a significant impact on me.  The oldest of five and for reasons I’m not sure of, I was the only one to be a part of the Head Start Program.  The oldest of five, and one of the two of us to earn a high school diploma and the only one to attain a college degree.  The only one to leave the small community for bigger adventures.  The only one to travel the world and through work in the Federal Government to meet Kings, Queens, Presidents and Prime Ministers.  Thanks to Head Start I really had a chance to live the American Dream.”

Beautifully said.  Thanks Head Start, for letting us be a part of new discoveries and sparking an interest in learning.