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2012 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Giant Steps Therapeutic Equestrian Center, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animal-Related, Animals, Education, Equestrian, Health, Sports, Voluntary Health Associations & Medical Disciplines

Mission: Giant Steps Therapeutic Equestrian Center is dedicated to enriching the lives of individuals with physical, behavioral and developmental challenges through the extraordinary benefits of therapeutic riding and related equine assisted therapy.

Results: From a program that started by serving 100 riders each year, we have grown to become a program that serves more than 100 riders each week. Over 90% of our riders achieve their stated goals in each session. We also maintain an active volunteer corp of 175. Without them, we could not do our work.

Target demographics: Any child or adult with a disability who can be helped by therapeutic riding!

Geographic areas served: Greater San Francisco Bay Area - riders come to us from 7 counties

Community Stories

20 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Giant Steps provides an amazing service for members of the community. It attracts students with many different disabilities some of whom drive for over an hour to participate in therapeutic riding lessons. It has a dedicated staff who give many hours beyond those expected of them and has created a community among its volunteers. Giant Steps is a gem of an organization that deserves recognition.

Previous Stories

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have the privilege of spending my work days with children with autism, "at risk" teenagers, veterans, young people with visual and hearing impairments and wonderful groups of dedicated volunteers. Most weeks I feel like I learn more from my students than they do from me. Seeing the compassion they have for the horse they ride, watching them overcome fears and canter for the first time, and seeing them laugh when they feel a bouncy trot. It is a wonderful privilege to witness the growth that happens in just one week spent with the people and horses at Giant Steps. Just this week I saw the joy that one of my students gets from just being able to put her hands on a horse. You can positively feel the excitement coming off her when she waits to mount her horse. In just three classes she has started to halt her horse with some measure of independence. The truly amazing thing is this young rider has both visual and hearing impairments, but what you notice when she is on a horse is that she has a smile that could light a room.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have been a paraplegic for 32 years. I started riding when I was 9 years old, and was absolutely in love with them as a teenager. When I was injured in a car accident at 21 years old I thought my riding days were over. Now I get to enjoy riding, petting, and talking to my favorite animals because of Giant Steps. They make it affordable and safe for a person like me to enjoy the magic of the horse. Not only do they provide good horses, but the staff and volunteers are so kind and understanding. I know my life is healthy and happy because of the Giants Steps Therapeutic Riding Program!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The instructors and staff, the clients, and the horses all make Giants Steps truly special. You notice right away the joy people experience every time they drive into the parking lot, and it’s because of the great and dedicated people who are involved. As a volunteer, I’m constantly amazed at the high caliber of the instructors, firing on all levels during a riding session. They are good teachers, caring task masters, and inspiring negotiators with each client. The riders are learning, trying, and changing before your eyes, benefiting both physically and emotionally from each session. It is a joy and reward to be involved with such an inspiring, well-run, and enriching program.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Giant Steps is truly a miracle. Trained instructors pair with trained horses and create magic for their "students". Movement and balance are achieved. Milestones accomplished. The joy on the faces of the students is a marvelous thing to see. It's magic. It works.

Susie9

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering at Giant Steps for almost thirteen years. Giant Steps instructors work on the individual needs of each rider. The instructors are amazing as are the volunteers. I've never worked with such a caring, loving, talented group. I have seen riders come in wheelchairs and eventually learn to walk. I seen riders come with no speech and begin talking. I've seen riders come with very little upper body strength be able to sit strong and tall. The riders accomplish so much from learning to focus, build upper body strength, develop confidence and learn empathy! It's an amazing organization!

Client Served

Rating: 5

My granddaughter has been riding at Giant Steps for over two years. The progress she has made is amazing. Her cerebral palsy affects the left side of her body so when she first started riding her body leaned to the left and she sagged forward. You should see her now--riding has strengthened her core muscles, she sits up straight and tall and is so proud that she can use her arms and legs to guide her horse. The instructors and other staff are caring and ever so professional. The volunteers are amazing and kind, they know us by name and make my grandaughter feel so welcome. At the end of every lesson my grandaughter is happy and relaxed. We can't say enough wonderful things about Giant Steps.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Amazingly dedicated and hard working group of people getting wonderful results with participants. The physical improvements and the joy they experience are very evident.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Good people helping people with disabilities - that's Giant Steps!I've never seen such a dedicated group of volunteers and staff. They love what they do here, and that makes a huge difference. It meant the world to me that these wonderful people were willing to give of their time to help my child succeed better in life! My son developed a longer attention span, communication skills, and problem solving skills. But, mostly, he learned to have a relationship with his 1200 lb best friend! This organization deserves your support!

Board Member

Rating: 5

What I enjoy most about working with Giant Steps is that we see real results every day and are able to improve the lives of so many people. The caliber of the staff and the volunteers is extraordinary. It amazes me that we are able to serve such a diverse range of people, from all ages, backgrounds and levels of ability. There is a real draw and a very special energy watching our riders in the arena, and witnessing the commitment and dedication of all involved has touched me greatly.

Patty16

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Giant Steps is an awsome organization, the love and care shown to the clients is amazing. It is so heartening to me to see the happiness the horses bring the students and watching them progress through this program makes my volunteeing so worth it!

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have been living with scoliosis all my life. My doctors told me that if the curvature in my spine did not improve that I would be headed for back braces and possible hunchback posture as I aged. I started riding at Giant Steps one year ago. My spine went from 17% curvature to 5.8% and is still straightening out! The staff and volunteers at Giant Steps are nothing short of amazing and I am so grateful to be a part of the family there. One day, I got to witness two women living with Down Syndrome ride off-lead for the first time ever. What a huge accomplishment for these ladies! this will directly translate to increased independence for them in daily life. I cried with their mothers when I saw it. the team dedication, the care of the horses, and the loving atmosphere cannot be surpassed. Thank you to an incredible organization!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Hoorah! The former Exec. Director retired. Now we have a new, talented Exec. Director, and I have great hopes for the future of Giant Steps!

10

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I had the pleasure of visiting Giant Steps earlier this year and was so impressed by the level of care provided to a very fragile child with multiple disorders and challenges. The folks at Giant Steps believe in what they are doing; they've seen the small miracles that change lives and bring hope to families. Dedicated staff and volunteers and wonderfully gentle horses make it posssible for children with severe disabilities to learn to walk, to speak their first words, and maybe most importantly, to smile and laugh.

15

Board Member

Rating: 5

The Giant Steps Therapeutic Equestrian Center is dedicated to helping heal emotionally and physically disabled children and adults through caring for and riding horses. I have known about this fabulous group of dedicated staff and volunteers, and about the magic they perform since 2004. I have seen them greatly enrich many lives. The quality therapy they provide allows each rider, as well as his/her family, to live a richer, fuller life than they ever imagined. I proudly support Giant Steps Equestrian Therapeutic Center.

14

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Giant Steps is one of the most wonderful organizations I have had the pleasure to work with over the past 20 years. The services offered are truly changing the lives of their clients as well as the entire family; the quality of the staff is unequaled; and the volunteers are amazing!

12

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As a physician, I cannot recommend this facility highly enough. Children and adults alike experience healing and recovery that is unparalleled in medicine. The referral process is straight-forward and efficient. The leadership and staff are trained professionals, and horses absolutely magical. I wish I had more tools like this in primary care.

14

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It is so heart-warming to witness first hand the miracles produced by this incredible organization in its effort to add fulfillment to the lives of mentally, physically and emotionally disabled children.

11

Donor

Rating: 5

This premier therapeutic equestrian center has it all: capable, caring and committed founders who continue to direct and manage the day-to- day operations; dedicated and competent volunteers that help in so many ways, a board that truly reflects the diversity and energy of the community, and--best of all--the many young client/riders, who work so hard to secure the profound benefits of therapeutic riding.

Previous Stories
12

Donor

Rating: 5

This extraordinary therapeutic equestrian center has it all. Great underlying management strength and direction by its founders, a well-rounded board of directors reflecting the best of the community, capable and caring volunteers and, best of all, a community of young clients whose commitment and progress inspires every9one daily.