Small Miracles offers both riding and non-riding therapy.
By Pam Cox
"These children have been measured most of their lives by what they can’t do. Small Miracles focuses on what they can do. To see the joy on a child’s face as they interact with these horses is overwhelming. There’s nothing small about the miracles that happen here," said Tammy Moore, mother of Callie Moore.
This is just one of the hundreds of success stories from Small Miracles Therapeutic Equestrian Center, Inc., a nonprofit organization founded "to enhance the physical, emotional, social and cognitive growth of individuals with special needs through equine-assisted activities."
Founded in 1995 by Mary Smith, Small Miracles has grown from a small organization with seven students and three horses to more than one hundred students a week and 11 horses.
"Mary had loved horses since her childhood, and God planted a seed in her heart to start an equestrian program that would help individuals with special needs," explained Gwen Keeling, executive director, Small Miracles Therapeutic Equestrian Center, Inc.
Smith initially started the program with the idea to have a six-month pilot program. At the end of the six months, there were more than 35 individuals on the program’s waiting list.
Small Miracles is a member of the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.), which was established in 1969 to train therapy horses for individuals with special needs. All Small Miracles instructors are PATH-certified and must complete a comprehensive certification program, plus continuing education courses to maintain their certifications.
Horses are specially-selected to participate in the therapy program and undergo a 30- to 60-day trial period before being placed in the ring with a student. The horses are either donated to the program or are on a long-term lease program in which, after the horse is retired from therapeutic service, it is returned to its owner.
Small Miracles offers both riding and non-riding therapy. Riding therapy helps students with trunk control, fine and gross motor skills, balance, and strength and hand-eye coordination. The non-riding program is experiential learning in which the horse is used as a member of the teaching team. Last summer, Small Miracles added a new initiative for veterans and their families - Horses for Heroes Program.
Equine therapy is available to students ages 4 and up for an hourly fee of $20. Full and partial scholarships are also available. Small Miracles is a United Way Agency, and is additionally supported through community donations, grants, fundraisers and planned giving.
Their biggest fundraiser is coming up in May, and is a silent online auction featuring restaurant certificates, vacations, golf packages, home décor and tools. The auction is open to the public and is accessible the first two weeks in May at www.small-miracles.org.
The second fundraiser is held in November and offers fresh-cut Frasier Christmas trees and wreaths. Trees and wreaths are pre-ordered through Small Miracles and are available the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
Small Miracles has a "Reach for the Moon" wish list that includes large items like a four-wheel tractor and fencing, and smaller items such as helmets, tack, saddles and horse feed. Like most non-profits, Keeling said, volunteers are the "backbone of the organization." Volunteers are needed to serve as horse leaders and side walkers, clean out the stall, and feed and groom horses on the weekend.
Small Miracles is a great community organization with documented outcomes that "offer hope through the power of the horse." To volunteer, donate, or for more information, contact Small Miracles at 423-349-1111 or visit the website at www.small-miracles.org.
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