Fund raising promotes horse play
“In all, 25 kindergarten-through fourth-grade classes at Suburu raised $2,600 in our “Pennies for Ponies “ drive in just two weeks - enough to buy a new pony for the facility,” said Suburu Principal Ann Dale. “The pony will be named “Suburu” after the former Lakeside Union School District Board of Trustees member for whom our school is named.”
MARE rewarded the students by planning a day for them on May 24 at the facility in northwest Bakersfield. MARE provides a sports and recreational riding program for people with different kinds of disabilities, according to Program Director Deborah Durkan.
“The movement of the horse stimulates movement in all parts of the body,” Durkan explained. “It’s passive and low impact therapy and can help those with autism because it moves the head and spine. That stimulates the body’s vestibular system which is linked to the ability to produce language. We have had some in the program say their first words after riding a horse. It also produces results with severely disabled, helping them work on their balance and fine and gross motor skills.”
As Suburu students toured MARE, they learned about the care and feeding of horses from Executive Director Michelle Rasmussen and her staff. They also had a chance to see the horses up close as they performed some water color body painting on the equines and then washed them clean of the impromptu artwork.
Kim Mullins, who has two children attending Suburu, brought the MARE fund raising idea to Dale, after seeing how similar efforts had worked at other schools.
“It really gives kids a chance to donate to people who need the horses for help,” Mullins said. “The students get rewarded too by coming to MARE to see the impact of their fund raising.”
Lynn Mahar is an aide at Suburu who also has an autistic son who attends. For the past three weeks he has been involved in the MARE program. She was overjoyed with the generosity of the student donations.
“My son loves the program, and I have seen rapid growth in the amount of confidence, balance and patience it has taught him in a short period of time,” Mahar said. “I only hope my talking about it will get more people involved.”
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