LoveWay helps children with special needs

 LoveWay in Middlebury provides therapeutic equestrian services to children with special needs.

The therapy is tailored for each child and ranges from emotional, physical, or behavioral.

The more than 300 children who attend LoveWay start out class by grooming the horse.

Shelley Becker is an instructor and said the classes are fun but there is a lot more to it than just having fun.

“We're going to try to do a trail ride but primarily for the kids, they think they're just having fun and getting a horseback ride, but really they're getting so much more than that,” said Instructor and Grant Writer Shelley Becker.

Becker said she has seen incredible progress in many of the children in her classes.

"Their social skills improve because they work with a volunteer, fear issues are improved because they're working with a thousand pound animal. They're learning skills like proper ways to groom a horse, which is important because we relate that back to their daily life," said Becker.

This past March, LoveWay was selected as a recipient for a grant from the Goshen Health and Wellness Foundation of Elkhart County.

According to the Executive Director of Goshen Health and Wellness Foundation Clare Krabill, she said grants like these are given to help improve health and wellness education throughout the county.

“This grant was to help educate the volunteers who come here who give their time to come here and work with the kids on equestrian therapy,” said Krabill.

The $1,000 grant they received will go towards funding continuing education classes for the staff.

"All the instructors here are required to have 20 hours of additional education. We are a PATH certified center which is the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship. If you want to be a therapeutic center you want to be PATH certified and they require we have continuing education hours every year," Becker added.

“Our foundation wants to be there to support that work and to partner donors with really, really wonderful programs in our community,” Krabill said.

Becker also added that LoveWay is always looking for volunteers to help with the horses and the classes.
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