The power of animals to help children in need is astounding. And when a child needs a little extra help, animals can make a life changing difference. That is what Leaps & Bounds Pediatric Therapy is all about – changing lives.
Founded on the proven, scientific benefits of interacting with animals, Animal-Assisted Therapy is a growing field that is now benefitting the lives of so many people around the world. Horses, in particular, have special therapeutic powers and the health effects of contact with a horse, as well as riding itself, are now well recognized. Through its innovative programs, Leaps & Bounds Pediatric Therapy is putting this power into practice and is helping to change the lives of over 600 patients per week.
Based in Norco, CA, Leaps & Bounds Pediatric Therapy was founded by Dr. Cassandra Sanders-Holly in 2012 when she began noticing a severe lack of specialty pediatric medical services in Southern California. This left most families driving over an hour for quality pediatric therapy services, often multiple times per week. As pediatric physical therapist, and a horsewoman since childhood, she was excited to learn that research evidence is highly supportive of hippotherapy – the use of the horse, in helping children with neuromuscular dysfunction gain postural strength and improved motor skills. Dr. Sanders-Holly knew there was no better place to implement equine assisted therapy than in her hometown.
In 2012, Friends of Leaps & Bounds (FOLB), a 501c3 nonprofit organization, was founded by five members of the community to establish a viable source of financial support for hippotherapy at Leaps & Bounds. Hippotherapy is marginally supported through insurance and cost prohibitive out-of-pocket. FOLB supports the financial gap that exists for patients who can significantly benefit from this research-proven equine therapy strategy but cannot afford it. FOLB has served thousands of children with a variety of diagnosis including developmental delays, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and cardiopulmonary impairment, among others.
The current program has grown to include more than 30 OT, PT, and speech therapists, two PATH certified riding instructors, and a significant pool of committed volunteers, all working collaboratively to support clients.
FOLB strives to support a family-centered approach to treatment. At the core of its mission is hippotherapy, the use of the horse to address the broad spectrum of needs for children with disabilities. During equine assisted therapy the ambulation the horse provides a rhythmic movement which stimulates anterior, and posterior swinging movements. Movements of the horse encourage the rider to achieve a proper balance, and posture, while building core strength. The horse, and those around provide the rider a large spectrum of sensory, and motor input which is also beneficial in treating certain conditions. Lastly, personal connection, autonomy, pride, and patient motivation are often significant benefits that result when children practice equine assisted therapies.
FOLB also has an extensive adaptive riding program that provided additional equine-based recreational and physical opportunities for its clients. The Adaptive Riding program is an opportunity to extend a patient’s clinical services through additional riding opportunities. It is open to patients, and any other family members who may like to participate, normalizing the activities and strengthening relationships inside and outside of the arena.
To round out FOLB’s offerings, sibling and parent support programming is also available. Addressing the needs of the disabled community is not necessarily only accomplished through direct service to the disabled individual. It is also accomplished through servicing and caring for the disabled individual’s family and support system. The Sibling Support program, led by a Certified Child Life Specialist, twice each week, utilizes the ranch setting and resident animals to engage children. It follows a structured, class-like curriculum that incorporates recreation, education, and opportunities for psychological exploration. Parent Support is offered on a monthly basis and combines educational and social networking opportunities for the parents and guardians of their patients.
Homeopet are delighted to provide FOLB with support to help them achieve their goals, but perhaps you would like to help too? The current demand for services exceeds FOLB’s ability to meet them resulting in waiting lists for service. To offer support to FOLB, please consider:
Make a tax-deductible donation at www.leapsandboundspediatrictherapy.org – 100% of your donation will be used to support children with special needs and their families to obtain the specialized therapies that will help them thrive.
Become a recurring monthly donor – stable and consistent support enables staff to focus on providing life changing therapies for patients.
Use Amazon Smile for online shopping and designate Friends of Leaps & Bounds as your charity of choice. FOLB receives 5% to 6% of your purchases and puts 100% toward their amazing therapy programs.
Volunteer – the programs are highly dependent on the generous volunteers who share their skills with us at no charge. Horse handlers, side walkers, camp counselors, ranch hands, and so many more other talented individuals help us keep costs low and productivity high on the campus.
To learn more about this wonderful organization, please visit: leapsandboundspediatrictherapy.org