Several months ago we met with Gauvin and Delphine Guillaume, a French couple who had just arrived in Cebu. They had formerly worked in China where they started an orphanage called Bethel. They were considering ministry opportunities in Cebu with an eye towards doing something for children with special needs. Eventually, they decided to start a therapy center and their first program is something called Equine Therapy. Their ministry is known as the SPACE Project, or Special People Accessing Creative Education.
Equine Therapy, also known as Hippotherapy, is a treatment that uses the multidimensional movement of the horse. Specially trained physical, occupational and speech therapists use this medical treatment for clients who have movement dysfunction.
Equine Therapy uses activities on the horse that are meaningful to the client. Treatment takes place in a controlled environment where graded sensory input can elicit appropriate adaptive responses from the client. Specific riding skills are not taught (as in therapeutic riding), but rather a foundation is established to improve neurological function and sensory processing. This foundation can then be generalized to a wide range of daily activities.
Friday was our introduction to this innovative program which will be available to some of our children and young adults with special needs. Maria, Michael, Wilmar and Jhaycob met the horse, Kose, for the first time. They helped to feed and groom him, and all but Jhaycob had their first ever ride. It was supposed to just be a "meet and greet" with Kose but they all did so well that the therapist felt it was good for them to ride. Jhaycob was a little tentative but pet the horse and helped give him a bath. All in all it was a great day and we are looking forward to weekly therapy for these, and possibly other kids in the very near future.