Chartway supports therapeutic riding

Published 11:23 pm Thursday, May 29, 2014

Participating in a check presentation recently in support of the Equi-Kids Therapeutic Riding Program were, from left, We Promise Events Manager Leah Moore, Chartway Director of Human Resources Christine Olson, We Promise Executive Director Karen Lane, Equi-Kids Chairman John Lockard and Equi-Kids Executive Director Jill Haag.

Participating in a check presentation recently in support of the Equi-Kids Therapeutic Riding Program were, from left, We Promise Events Manager Leah Moore, Chartway Director of Human Resources Christine Olson, We Promise Executive Director Karen Lane, Equi-Kids Chairman John Lockard and Equi-Kids Executive Director Jill Haag.

For the third consecutive year, Chartway Federal Credit Union’s We Promise Foundation has funded scholarships for 40 children with disabilities, enabling them to benefit from equine-assisted therapeutic riding lessons.

The grant from Chartway FCU’s We Promise Foundation will offer physical, mental and emotional gains for special-needs participants through Equi-Kids.

Weekly lessons will help riders strengthen muscles and improve their balance and coordination. Communication and socialization are also expected to improve as the children have the opportunity to build ardent bonds with the horses, increasing trust and confidence for the pair with each session.

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“Through the generous funding of our annual scholarship program by the We Promise Foundation, we are able to provide therapeutic riding for members of our community who would not otherwise have the opportunity to participate,” said Jill Haag, executive director of the Equi-Kids Therapeutic Riding Program.

“They are dedicated partners who help us change the lives of our special-needs riders. Through the support of the We Promise Foundation, we are able to make dreams come true every day here at Equi-Kids.”

Equi-Kids therapeutic riding lessons provide immediate and evident benefits for riders and their family members, officials said. Wheelchair-bound participants learn independence and the ability to walk strong and tall on the back of an Equi-Kids horse or pony. Autistic children who rarely speak and avoid eye contact and touch break through boundaries by telling their horses, “Walk on…” and patting them and connecting with their instructors and volunteers, according to Equi-Kids leaders.

We Promise Foundation Chairman John Blum said Chartway’s foundation is honored to continue its tradition of serving as the sole sponsor of Equi-Kids’ scholarship program for children.

“Our foundation and its supporters and volunteers are deeply dedicated to making a difference in our communities,” said Blum. “The joy and freedom children experience, the leadership skills they gain, and the therapeutic progress they make is remarkable. This program is unmatched, and we are humbled to help children who can benefit from it.”

Founded in 1989, Virginia Beach’s Equi-Kids Therapeutic Riding Program has grown into one of the largest accredited equine riding programs in the country benefiting the special needs community.

The organization provides equine-assisted activities to a diverse group of riders each week, including individuals with disabilities such as Down syndrome, autism, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, amputation, mental and physical disabilities, attention deficit disorder and more.

As the charitable arm of Chartway Federal Credit Union, the We Promise Foundation is dedicated to making dreams come true for children battling degenerative, life-threatening, debilitating or chronic illnesses, or those facing tremendous hardship.

Since 1999, the organization has raised more than $5.8 million to bring smiles to the faces of more than 1,200 children. For more information, visit www.WePromiseFoundation.org.