Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN


October 4, 2013

Honda revs up the "horse" power for education

Greensburg — GREENSBURG — On Wednesday morning, Honda made news friend in the community, reaching out to Triple R Equine Rescue Ranch to help this important part of Decatur County further its mission of providing sanctuary to imperiled horses and spread “equine facilitated learning” throughout the region.

Cindy Haavisto, branch manager of Honda Federal Credit Union, Greensburg, joined other Honda colleagues for a first-hand glimpse of the Greensburg Junior High School’s (GJHS) “Unbridled Potential” program for at-risk students.

“This is my first time out here,” Haavisto said. “We were very intrigued by the description of this program and what it offers.” Haavisto added that she was impressed to have such an important endeavor as Triple R “right here in our [Honda’s] backyard” and was pleased to have discovered it. “We want to make all our associates aware of this,” she added.

Now in its fourth year, Unbridled Potential kicked off in 2011 when GJHS Special Education Teacher Heather Sanders was awarded a grant to fund it. Sanders and others at GJHS created Unbridled as a way to help motivate kids through the use of alternative learning; as a way to teach at-risk kids cooperation, leadership, responsibility, teamwork and patience. Participating students are in grades 6 through 8, and might be struggling academically, socially or behaviorally. It’s not uncommon for these kids to come from strained or tense home environments and to have disciplinary issues at school.

Through the program, kids learn to care for and eventually ride the horses. Program volunteer Shelley Davis explained that kids are first introduced and exposed to the horses and their personalities. Then, little by little, in distinct stages, contact and interaction between students and horses is gradually increased. By the end of the program, the goal is to have the kids become adept at caring for and riding the horses. The kids are often initially intimidated by the animals, Davis said, making gradual interaction all the more critical.

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