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.
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.
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.
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.