All Kinds of News for September 13, 2017
The blond hair and blue eyes catch your attention. Then the big smile draws you in. And then she shares her sassy personality, and you have no choice but to fall in love. Her name is Hope. Of course it is! She is riding on her favorite steed, Elvis, free from her wheelchair and all of its bindings. She is singing and dancing on her horse to her current favorite song, “Yeah Boy” by Kelsea Ballerini. Keith Bishop, COO, and Angie Shockley, Founder and CEO of Q&A Associates use adaptive equipment to keep Hope safe. Staff and clients from Applewood Transitions for Young Women lead the horse, sing and dance with Hope, and encourage her to stretch her body and reach the rings she must move from one place to another while she is riding.
Hope is a Saddles & Smiles kid. Elvis is a Saddles & Smiles horse. Standing 16 hands, this Tennessee Walker Paint gives Hope love, opportunity and freedom. She has been riding him for over a year. When she first met Elvis, her team of doctors at Shriner’s Children’s Hospital was talking about surgery to loosen her hips which were becoming stuck and so inflexible that her only options were to have a complicated surgery or deal with the pain and lack of movement. Her mom found Saddles & Smiles and thought that riding horses might help. It has. Recently, Hope visited Shriner’s Hospital for her evaluation, and the doctors found that her hips are looser and do not require surgery at this time. They credit horseback riding as the change agent. Another win for Elvis!!
Angie Shockley founded Saddles & Smiles (S&S) in 2014. It is a 501c3 nonprofit that provides equine assisted therapies to kids and families as well as the clients of the Q&A family of programs (Applewood Transitions for Young Women, The Journey Transitions for Young Men, and Cabin Mountain Living Center). The services provided through Saddles & Smiles are free of charge. The officers of S&S along with volunteers raise money to support the services provided and the care for the 18 S&S horses, most of which are rescues. S&S is currently providing services to more than 10 special needs children and their families in the North Central region of WV. These services include teaching the children how to ride horses, instruction in horsemanship skills, facilitating opportunities for emotional growth, and providing family education and support. The children of S&S face the challenges of Autism Spectrum Disorder, physical disabilities, as well as mental health and emotional diagnoses.
The clients of the Q&A family of programs volunteer their time to assist with the S&S kids and care for the horses. Seeing a young adult spend time with Hope and shift his or her personal perspective is quite rewarding. Many young adults come into the Q&A programs with a sense of entitlement and lack of awareness for the world around them. When they experience the joy that Hope exudes, it allows them to evaluate their own situations and opportunities. They often experience humility at a profound level which allows them to adjust their own actions and expectations. It is a true moment of growth that can’t be facilitated by traditional approaches or therapy. It is experienced; it is not taught.
About Q&A Family of Programs
Q&A Family of Programs works with young adults ages 18 and up, providing opportunities for each of them to develop independent, functional, and happy lives with a high level of quality. Our clients have struggled to reach independence for a variety of reasons such as the inability to develop and/or implement the life skills needed to be successful, or struggling to obtain consistent employment. Our goal is to help these individuals find meaning and an authentic purpose for their lives and a practical path to achieve their goals.