Children and youth are invited to come just as they are, regardless of religion or religious background. We believe that that relationships with children and youth are best developed in sharing activities and working side by side. Our program director tailors each one-to-one session per the child’s needs and interests with a suitable mentor. There are all kinds of different activity options such as horsemanship, farm activities, outdoor exploring, crafts, woodworking, and so much more. Each session includes a chore that communicates the value of serving others. This one-to-one mentorship gives opportunity to create a safe place for the child or youth to have meaningful conversations and for them to recognize they have value and worth not for what they do or what others think of them, but for who they are as a unique individual that God created. At the heart of these one-to-one sessions is a desire for each child and youth to experience the encouragement and love of Jesus Christ through their mentor, with the hope that each child will embrace the source of that love, the person Jesus.
Horses are highly social and like humans, have unique personalities, likes/dislikes and moods. They have defined roles within their herd and in most cases would rather be with their peers. An approach that works with one horse may not work with another. Horses do not have the same social bias and judgments that we as humans bring to our interactions. Therefore, horses engage with humans in relationships without prejudice. Horses allow us to be curious about ourselves, without feeling vulnerable. Horses communicate non-verbally. As such, the client’s body language is what the horses react to. Clients often learn that in order to change the behaviour of the horse, they must first change their own behaviour. This process allows the clients to become more aware of
their bodies and to take responsibility for their actions as well as observing natural consequences.
Working with horses therapeutically is known to help build confidence as well as intrapersonal skills such as communication, self-awareness, leadership, and emotional regulation. Horses respond to our emotions because they are prey animals and therefore have a higher awareness of the senses and environment around them. The horse can read a person and respond accordingly, making them incredible teachers.
The importance of play
At River’s Edge we are not just about horses (although that is what draws many people to our farm!). We are creating a space for children and youth to be children and youth by inviting them to play. Many children and youth are not exposed to the simple wonder and joy of frolicking in the woods catching sunbeams, having the space to play hide and go seek in a large barn, or have access to creating a birdhouse using power tools with an experienced adult. At Rivers Edge we do our best to create place where kids can be kids, using their imaginations, exploring, inventing, making messes, and learning from natural consequences. Play is an integral part of learning, encouraging the development of physical, emotional, social, and cognitive skills. Play helps a child grow in creativity, critical thinking, self-awareness, and decision making skills. Play pushes a child past comfort levels and teaches a child confidence to face a risk and overcome challenges and fears. At River’s Edge we desire to come alongside and join in the play of a child or youth to teach, guide, and encourage confidence, a sense of accomplishment, and self-discovery.