WASHOE VALLEY, Nev. (KOLO) Over the years, we've taken you to the Nevada Equine Assisted Therapy or NEAT program in Washoe Valley.
The program uses horses to help kids between the ages of 4 and 21 work through issues like impulse control, stress tolerance and flexibility.
Kids we talked to loved the program.
“I did not ride before,” says Angel Faz who talked about his experiences back in 2016. “I learned a few ground games before I got a chance to ride,” he said.
“Like both the horses and the people encourage us all the time,” Moriah Jickling told us back in 2016. “They want us to reach our dreams. That's the most important thing,” she said.
Parents say they've noticed how the interaction between horse, rider and instructor can plant the seeds to success.
“If you go up and yell at the horse and demand the horse to do something, it is not going to work,” said Jamie Shakespeare, a parent whose child was in the program about a year ago. “So it is understanding the same with people. You have to use those kind words. You have to build that relationship,” she said.
NEAT knows the work here is important.
They also know there are kids out there who could benefit from equine therapy. But because of financial reasons or insurance issues they can't participate.
And that's a shame says Laurie Roberts, because kids find themselves dealing with plenty of problems.
“One in 5 children are now being diagnosed with a mental health illness,” says Roberts, co-founder of NEAT. “There is a 43% increase in ADHD. There is a 37% increase in teenage anxiety and depression,” says Roberts.
With that in mind, NEAT along with the For Kids Foundation are offering scholarships to children who could benefit from equine therapy but who cannot afford it. Scholarships are awarded through an online application process.
“Contact them, as program director to kind of do an interview what is going on in the family," says Annie Goni-Stewart with the For Kids Foundation. “What is going on with the child? We will ask for a medical substantiation of the request from a pediatrician or the therapist to find out what is happening. And our board does believe in this program. So frequently we will approve those requests,” she says.
Copyright KOLO-TV 2020