<< Visit Website
Categories: Animal, Children, Disabilities, Elderly, [ View All ]
Offering Alternative Therapy With Smiles Charity Profile
(Offering Alternative Therapy with Smiles, horseback riding for the handicapped) was founded in 1997 by Nancy Lee Heussner. Located on a 50-acre facility on M-15 five miles north of I-75 in Clarkston, today O.A.T.S. and its staff of caring, dedicated and enthusiastic instructors and volunteers provide equine-assisted therapy to more than 100 children and adults with a wide variety of physical and/or emotional disabilities.
Why O.A.T.S.? Since its inception, the O.A.T.S. program has made rider safety priority #1. O.A.T.S. is also the only program of its kind in Michigan to run year-round, providing the consistent therapy riders need. Other hallmarks of the O.A.T.S. program:
Independence: The goal for every rider at O.A.T.S. is to ride independently (without assistance from a leader and/or sidewalker), no matter the disability. While not always possible, the important thing is that it’s encouraged.
Interaction: We strive to engage our riders from the moment they arrive until they leave. Riders are asked to converse, recognize horses and volunteers by name, assist with leading horses out and untacking, notice their surroundings, participate in games and activities, test their limits and most of all, have fun and SMILE. Parents, caregivers, teachers and doctors are often surprised by what our riders can do!
Information: In addition to learning and mastering riding basics, riders are taught equine terminology and sign language. Other basic educational concepts stressed include identifying colors, counting, recognizing letters, words, the seasons and things in nature (birds, animals, flowers, etc.).
Inclusion: O.A.T.S. has always been more than just a place to ride. For parents, it’s a support system and a place to network and share information. For riders, it’s a place to be a “regular” kid through annual events like the Mane Event horse show and fair (held at the Oakland County 4H Fairgrounds in Davisburg every September), Easter, Halloween and holiday parties and our Smiles on Saddles day camp
Offering Alternative Therapy With Smiles Volunteer Information
CLASS VOLUNTEERS: the backbone of our program. This is where you’ll really
experience the magic of therapeutic horseback riding. NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY, we will train you! All you need is a SMILE.
•Be physically fit enough to walk, and occasionally jog, for one hour.
•Be able to commit to at least one class each week. This ensures the necessary number of volunteers for each class, and also creates the opportunity for special friendships to form between riders and volunteer teams through regular contact.
Duties (depending on your experience/abilities):
• Lead a horse and rider
• Sidewalk (walk beside the rider). Some riders require only your presence; others
require a safety hold at all times.
• Assist with mounting and dismounting
• Assist with grooming, tacking and untacking horses
PROGRAM VOLUNTEERS: Can’t commit to a weekly class? Not comfortable
around horses? There are lots of other ways you can contribute and still make a
difference in the life of a disabled child or adult.
• Coordinate a fundraiser (we currently have only one large fundraising event a
year and would love to have more!)
• Plan/help coordinate our annual Dinner Dance & Silent Auction
• Plan/help coordinate our annual rider parties or the Mane Event horseshow and fair
• Serve on our board of directors
• Handy with tools? There are always things around the farm that need fixing and/or installing (see our wish list)
• Volunteer at our annual Smiles On Saddles Day Camp
• Write a grant
• Assist with administrative duties
• You tell us! Just let us know how/when you’d like to help.