To provide and promote educational, therapeutic, athletic and recreational services for individuals with disabilities and to provide educational and recreational activities using horses and the working farm environment for people with and without disabilities.
Programs: 1) Challenge Unlimited recreational therapeutic riding program: serves approximately 350 individuals weekly in an included program that uses horses and the farm environment to teach life skills. Challenge Unlimited works with people diagnosed with 22 different disabilities including: autism, Aspergers syndrome, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, pervasive developmental disorder, developmental disability, mental handicap, Downs syndrome, Williams syndrome, Aperts syndrome, Huntington's disease, stroke, traumatic brain injury, cancer, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, seizure disorder, heart disease, and hearing and visual impairment. Challenge Unlimited is affiliated with 17 other service providers in a collaborative effort to best meet the needs of our mutual constituencies.2) Ironstone Therapy: serves approximately 100 individuals weekly. Ironstone Therapy provides medically based physical and occupational therapy and speech/language pathology for people with physical disabilities based on physician prescription. Ironstone Therapy holds contracts with 9 Early Intervention programs throughout Greater Boston, the North Shore and the Merrimack Valley.3) Summer Camp: serves approximately 200 children during the summer months in an included program. Challenge Unlimited strives to find funding that will open the doors of the Summer Camp to children from the inner city and from families of low income.4) Peanuts on Ponies and Community Groups: has served about 80 children since its inception in 2005. Peanuts provides an opportunity for parents/guardians to teach their children using real ponies under the guidance of a licensed instructor in a "play group" setting. Peanuts is combined with the Community Group concept which provides physical therapy in a group setting, bringing children of all abilities together in a play activity at a very early age.5) Working Student program: serves approximately 20 teens at a time, giving them the opportunity to earn riding lessons and the horse experience by helping with farm chores, caring for the animals and working with the therapeutic sessions. Working Students meet monthy in an educational setting, and are able to grow within the program by becoming team leaders, apprentice instructors, and/or program coordinators, thus leading to future job opportunities. In the past two decades more than 1000 teens have experienced the Ironstone Farm Working Student program and many have gone on to pursue careers in related fileds of interest.6) Volunteer program: Challenge Unlimited needs the help of more than 150 voluntees each week. Volunteer recruitment is ongoing with workshops offered four evenings a month, year round. Volunteers range in age from 12 to adult and come from a broad range of ethnic, educational. professional and socio-economic backgrounds. 7) Beginning in Fall 2008, the Challenger House will provide after-school activities in art, theater arts and music therapies for children with disabilities as well as a resource center for families of people with disabilities.
I have volunteered at Challenge Unlimited for about five years now, first helping with the horses used by clients who were there for therapy, and later in the Welcome Center. The staff at the farm are professional, dedicated, and compassionate people who combine their efforts for the well-being of their clients. In addition to the serious work done for people with disabilities, there is an ongoing effort to establish a sense of community through programs like Breakfast with Santa, a Derby Day road race, and an annual evening gala fundraiser. Challenge Unlimited is a wonderful organization doing amazing work.
I have been with challenge unlimited for over 8 years. Through all the wonderful programs that they offer I have met so many friends and the people at challenge unlimited have become a second family. They are genuinely happy to see you and work their hardest to make sure you get what you need. The dedication and hard work of the staff is incredible to miss they are always at work with a smile and always brighten the day
I have been involved with Ironstone Farm for about 9 years. In that time I have watched much growth, from clients, working students, volunteers, staff, horses, as well as my daughter and myself. I have been involved in helping were needed from feeding, volunteering, greeting, birthday parties, and other special occasions. Ironstone Farm is a great place to make friends, relax, exercise, work, socialize, and enjoy to just enjoy nature. My daughter and I started volunteering 9 years ago (so we had something to do together) she became a working student, made lots of friends, acquired great work ethnics, and has now working to become an instructor herself. As for myself I have found that I started because I liked horses, and working with kids, but stayed because I found I had as much to learn from those horses and kids if not more than they could learn from me. Anyone that spends time with these wonderful horses will become a stronger person.
I am writing this review as a client served but Challenge Unlimited has done so much more for me. This place HAS been life changing. The hippotherapy that my autistic child participated in at the farm is the reason that my child went from being non verbal to talking non stop. The staff, volunteers and horses are the most amazing people (and animals!) that I have ever met. I recommend them to anyone and everyone I can and will continue to do so. Ironstone feels like a second home to us and we will never be able to thank them for everything that they have done for us!
I have volunteered at Ironstone Farm over the course of three or four years now. Safety is of primary concern, the staff is well trained as are the horses! Until you've seen a child or young adult go from no smiles and fear, to laughter and joy, you can't begin to understand the great value in this program!! The physical and emotional needs are met. The bonding with the horses is amazing.
The local is also excellent, providing beautiful views and closeness to nature. A quiet green pathway under sunlit trees, or the blue heron on the pond.... it is almost zen-like.