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Marianna Greene Henry Special Equestrian Program Hosts Alternative Spring Break

The 12 volunteers pose on a horse feeder they built.Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind’s Marianna Greene Henry Special Equestrian Program (MGH) hosted 12 students as part of Vanderbilt University’s Alternative Spring Break, a student-run service organization that is dedicated to motivating students to become active citizens through intentional community engagement. 

Throughout the week, the students from Vanderbilt University gained a deeper understanding of a multi-faceted, horse-centered approach to therapy by assisting AIDB students during therapeutic classes, building hay feeders, and painting fences surrounding the pastures. In the evenings, the students enjoyed activities such as a bonfire and a barn dance. 

David and Sam smile to the camera.One of the volunteers, David, commented, “This has been an amazing experience! It’s so rewarding to have interacted with AIDB’s students and staff. And learning about all of the work that goes on behind the scenes to support the mission of MGH! From grooming and feeding the horses to cleaning the pastures each day, it’s an amazing operation.” 

“All of the projects we’ve been working on and interacting with the students using hippotherapy for its intended use have been super rewarding,” Sam, another volunteer, agreed. “But I also loved being able to see Alabama Industries for the Blind while touring Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind. Seeing the employees who were blind achieve the same things, if not more, as someone who’s typically sighted makes me want to advocate more for people who are blind.” 

Six of the volunteers smile to the camera while petting Moose, AIDB's Emotional Support K9."These students sacrifice their Spring Break to volunteer with sites all over the world,” said Tim Greene, Arena Coordinator of Marianna Greene Henry Special Equestrian Program. “They have a unique opportunity to view different cultures, collaborate with fellow students, solve problems, accept new challenges, and provide great service. The Marianna Greene Henry Special Equestrian Program at Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind is honored not only to be chosen as a site but to have spent many years hosting these students and making many lifelong friends along the way. It is always sad to see them leave, but we do get to look forward to a new and enthusiastic group next year. Thank you, Vandy!"