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I bring together children, Equine Assisted Learning activities, Horsemanship, and HeartMath exercises on a farm full of friendly animals, to bring the concept and practice of self-regulation to life. Together, we build connection, calm and confidence, in fun, interactive sessions learning about and caring for other animals with feelings just like us!

It is my mission to break down the science and practice of self-regulation in a fun and engaging way, to help children find connection and calm in a complicated world. To empower youth with tools to Take the Lead and move towards a brighter future. To provide effective programming in a safe and fun setting, free from judgement. To nurture a sense of confidence and hope that will enable graduates to reach their fullest potential.

We look at our emotions, at their purpose, at how they are measurable, transferable, detectable by others, AND within our influence. Then we practice with the animals and a biofeedback tool from HeartMath. We use HeartMath tools and breathing exercises to get us 'out of the red' and 'into the green' for the sake of the animals, as we nurture them and take care of their needs. The magic is in drawing the parallels to our human world.

What is HeartMath, and How I use the HeartMath System alongside animal interactions.

The animals are specialists at detecting heart rhythms and some are more sensitive and reactive than others. Our heart rhythms and patterns are indicative of our emotional states, which is what they detect and react to. Prey animals, particularly horses, are averse to the chaotic heart rhythms associated with negative emotions like fear, anger or frustration, and attracted to the smooth coherent patterns associated with calm presence in humans. They require you to be present, calm and coherent, to be trusted as a leader. That’s where HeartMath comes in – HeartMath has developed a tool to measure our heart’s rhythms, and techniques to regulate and shift our emotional state from chaos to calm. These things are measurable and with their tool, we can see when we make a shift and learn the feel of when we are in our optimal zone. The practice with the tool and the ability to self-regulate turns into rewarding human-animal interactions on the farm and a growing sense of connection and calm.

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EQUINE ASSISTED LEARNING

Wondering what Equine Assisted Learning is all about?

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TAKE THE LEAD KIDS PROGRAM

Take The Lead's program is innovative and effective.

LEARN MORE ABOUT

HeartMath

VIA THE LINKS BELOW

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Re: Take the Lead Equine Therapy

This letter is regarding the four youth who took part in the spring/fall 2018 equine therapy sessions with Paige at Take the Lead.

The youth who completed the sessions had a wide range of disabilities, including autism, as well as gross motor and fine motor coordination difficulties. They learned many new skills, which involved problem solving using the horses and the various obstacle courses they had to learn to conquer. They improved their motor skill s by leading the horses around and learning to groom them. Many of these youth have severe sensory issues, such as touching and sound, which they learned to overcome by assisting with the grooming and cleaning the horses and feeding them. They also learned to tolerate the noises of the horses and different sounds that were startling at first. They also worked on their social skills by doing tasks involving team work, where they had no choice but to communicate with each other to complete the challenges.

Overall, the equine therapy program run by Paige, encompasses all the skills children with autism require in order to learn and grow (communication, critical thinking skills, problem solving, motor skills, and social skills).

As an autism consultant/therapist I am happy to be a part of this unique opportunity for our children and below will show the benefits that are gained by a child with Autism.

How an Autistic Child can benefit from Equine Therapy

For thousands of years the bond between man and animal has proven to be effective in creating an emotional, healing bond. Horses are used by physical, speech, and occupational therapists to reach their patients on a personal level through what is referred to as “hippotherapy.” Children with autism also benefit from equine therapy due to the motor, emotional, and sensory sensations that come with caring, grooming and riding a horse.

Creating the Emotional Bond

Autistic children have difficulty bonding emotionally to others. As parents of an autistic child, you know that it is hard for your child to make eye contact, communicate what he is feeling, and express himself to those he cares about. Rather than verbal communication, autistic children experience physical communication with the horses. They brush them, hug them, and pat them. By learning to care for the horse, they associate the care they provide with feelings and an emotional bridge is constructed. This bond can lead to social and communication skill production with other people in their life as well.

Cognitive and Language Skills Development

Autistic children often have difficulty comprehending normal directions. By engaging in equine therapy, a child follows directions through a fun activity that makes taking direction easier to grasp and remember. They will also give the horse direction, which provides them with more opportunities to communicate. The child is naturally motivated to move; thus, they are excited and motivated to communicate. During Their therapy cognitive concepts will naturally improve.

Sensory Benefits

Balance and movement orientation are experienced through the inner ear and are stimulated through direction change, incline, and speed. Riding a horse helps liven these sensory preceptors, which helps make therapy exciting and motivates your child to continue to be engaged.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at nb.plays.association@gmail.com or call 705-845-1340.

Sincerely

Shannon Berger

c/o Founder P.L.A.Y.S

B.A. (Hons) Psychology

Autism Advocate and Autism Consultant