The Giant Steps Program for At-Risk Children provides life-enhancing experiences for youth in the child welfare system that are struggling with severe emotional disturbances or special needs.
We use the horse as a tool to help promote positive self-esteem, communication skills, healthy impulse controls, confidence, a sense of freedom, self-worth, safety and respect for others. Participants also learn the fundamentals of horsemanship. Our at-risk youth program, funded by generous donors, is offered to the children at significant or complete scholarship (scholarship application is required).
We form a collaborative team with the child, counseling staff, classroom teachers, probation workers, social workers, and caregivers to design a range of academic, personal, social, vocational and health goals to meet each child's needs. Our instructors keep ongoing records of goals and achievement. We continue to receive positive feedback and information from each child's team members. As anticipated, our young riders have formed a powerful bond with their horse, allowing for the healing of emotional scars and the development of new skills for positive and productive social interaction, improved academic performance and cognitive functioning.
A few of the organizations with whom we collaborate include: Oak Hill School in San Anselmo, Sonoma County Department of Mental Health Services, Children's Village of Sonoma County, Flowery Elementary School (Sonoma), Social Advocates for Youth (SAY), Mentor Me Petaluma, and Becoming Independent.