As part of its Silver Award project, Girl Scout Troop 9231 of La Crescenta held a special event for autistic children that provided the experience of spending an afternoon with horses. Horses Helping Humans was a concept that the troop of eight Girl Scouts created that focused on introducing younger autistic children (4-10 years old) to horses.
The freshman girls worked with Mellissa Watkins of Cherokee Ranch in Shadow Hills who helped them design the special day for the children.
The girls had a training day when they went to the ranch, became familiar with the horses and learned their way around. Some of the Girl Scouts were already horse lovers and riders who participated in competitions.
To identify the children best suited to the HHH project, the girls contacted Glendale Adventist Play To Learn Pediatric Therapy Center in Eagle Rock. Dr. Traci Jones Martinez conducted an extensive tour of the facility for the Scouts. The tour gave the girls a chance to see children being worked with by special pediatric therapists, teaching them the level of attention the children needed. All the children who participated in the HHH event were clients of the Eagle Rock center.
The Scouts invested much time in the planning of the HHH day. The girls created stations to feed, groom, shoe and ride the horses. They set aside a place for guests to relax and watch the horses. In addition, the Scouts prepared lunch for their guests, setting a table with decorations, and posted handmade signs around the ranch to create a western ambiance. The girls even gave the children and themselves “ranch” names!
The Girl Scouts guided and gently supervised the children as they brushed, rode and fed carrots to the horses. Each child experienced the horse’s close-up – touching, looking, riding and smelling the animals.
Based on the success of the day, the girls are looking forward to organizing a similar event and invite the public to let them know of any autistic children who might benefit from an HHH experience. For more information, call Debbie Bright, Girl Scout leader, at (818) 726-2824.