Minister of Education visits students Therapeutic Horseback riding Intervention Program

POSTED: 03/21/16 6:56 PM

St. Maarten News – Students of Group 8c, Asha Stevens Hillside Christian School were graced with the presence of our Honorable Minister of Education, Silveria Jacobs, along with Mrs. Asha Stevens, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the schools, and Cycle two principal, Mrs. M. Sam.

Students along with their teacher Michelle Dussard, visit the Seaside Nature Park for their usual weekly session. These sessions are designed to curb student’s bad behavior “as horses are common therapeutic tools” said Dr.Alexandra van Luijken, Psychologist. Mrs. Asha Stevens who is known to go the extra mile in integrating these kinds of programs in the school’s curriculum in order to prepare students for today’s society, embraced this opportunity.

Students attend the Discovery Petfarm at Seaside nature Park twice weekly, where they are engaged in horseback riding at Lucky Stables, where the program guides them through the skills of grooming, saddling and riding horses, under the guidance of riding instructor Christel Horst, as well as emotional sessions directed by Mrs. Myriam Haar, emotional coach, together with the riding instructor. These sessions are geared towards acquiring social skills, mindfulness and awareness with the objective to ultimately make the right choices in behavior.

“Horseback riding therapy is a powerful way to get in touch with thoughts, feelings and getting reflection on behavior. Horses have a unique ability to sense emotions and react accordingly. Witnessing the horse’s response promotes self-awareness and can help the student see themselves and learn”.

The Discovery Farm offers several programs for the youth and also for adults, focusing on social skills, healthy life style and animal assisted therapy. The farm surrounding offers outdoor fun time, while being physical active and caring for the animals. The farm can be visited by individuals, but can also organize a teambuilding activity, a fieldtrip or a party at your request.

The special programs are unique for St.Maarten and are based on the many successful programs that run in the USA and Europe. Animal assisted therapy and especially equine therapy is scientifically proven to be effective. The current THINK-program is a follow up on earlier programs organized by Lucky Stables also in conjunction with the Casa Nova therapeutic horseback riding program on the French side. Part of the program will be registration of results and effects.

“I am anticipating the results in the students’ behavior from this program as we are faced with daily challenges in our schools island wide” Minister Jacobs expressed.

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