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Welcome to the first in a new series celebrating the everyday heroes in our community. Their passion, and commitment to ‘giving a chip’, inspires us and we hope it will do the same for you. We’d love to hear your feedback – drop us an email or post to @deepriversnacks on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.
High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc. in Old Lyme, CT is one of the top therapeutic horsemanship facilities in the country. They offer a wide array of programs and services designed to improve the quality of life for children and adults with physical, mental, and emotional disabilities. In addition, High Hopes also trains people to be therapeutic riding instructors, so the great work they do in their own community can help students all over the world!
We met with Liz Adams, Program Director at High Hopes. Students from Essex Elementary School and Deep River Elementary School were visiting for their weekly session, and we had the chance to see their lesson in action. As they rode their horses around the barn and followed the gentle instruction of their teacher (a student in training to be a therapeutic riding instructor), the students were improving muscle tone and gaining fine and gross motor skills. In their lessons, they also learn to follow multi-step directions, identify letters and colors, improve their communication skills, manage their behavior, understand body language, and more!
We wanted to know more about Liz and her role in making High Hopes the world-class facility that it is. Liz, like everyone at High Hopes, really Gives a Chip about making a difference in the lives of others.
How did you get started at High Hopes?
I went to college for Therapeutic Horsemanship and was hired as the Program Director at High Hopes in 2010. When I was in high school, I started volunteering at the location therapeutic riding farm, which started my passion for the work.
What kinds of things do you do each day, and how do those things contribute to the organization’s overall goals?
My favorite part of the job is the variety of responsibilities I have each day. I develop programs for populations in need of interactions with the horse, I support the instructors as they develop goals for each individual rider, I teach lessons to participants, and I help keep the horses fit and happy doing their jobs.
What is the hardest part of what you do?
We are very fortunate to have 240 riders with us every week; making sure that each unique individual gets what they need each week is a big job!
What makes it all worth it to you?
Being able to work with horses and people with disabilities is the realization of a life-long passion; every day there are new accomplishments and big smiles!
What would you tell someone who is looking to make a difference in their community?
My advice would be to remember that every little bit counts – with today’s busy society people struggle to find time to give – even an hour a week spent helping a cause you believe in can make a big difference.
Want to support High Hopes? If you’re in the Connecticut area, be sure to visit their Holiday Market on November 15th! Over 60 local vendors will be offering their wares for sale, along with a plethora of food trucks in case you get hungry. Check out glass-blowing demonstrations, let your kids participate in some fun activities (and get some Deep River Snacks chips!) while you do your holiday shopping, and even enter a raffle to win a new car! Attendance is free; just bring one non-perishable food item. Last year, they collected 2,400 pounds of food. Let’s help them collect even more this year.
To learn more about High Hopes, or to make a donation to help them continue this great work, visit www.highhopestr.org.