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Welcome to Education "Village"

Faith Swan, HKS student, with Katie Hickman, Lacey Ellis, and Kate Storjohann.Originally written by therapeutic staff and submitted by Caitlin Carpenter, Occupational Therapist, and Tim Greene, Arena Coordinator.

The “Village” is a very special program originally designed by Occupational Therapist Ellen Davis, OTR. She envisioned a program for children that could address the cognitive, physical, social, sensory and academic needs of students outside the classroom in the fun and unique environment of the Marianna Greene Henry Special Equestrian Program Arena (MGH).

One class of Helen Keller School of Alabama (HKS) students, along with their teacher and classroom aide, will engage in purposeful activities focused on learning once a week at MGH. Therapists, MGH staff and teachers collaborate in advance to identify student needs and class goals. This integrated approach provides an opportunity for students to generalize skills learned in the classroom to a new setting. Students work very hard when they are at play and without realizing they are learning! MGH Arena offers a large indoor riding arena that can be used when the weather is rainy or chilly, a classroom and a barn to explore. Outside, students have many opportunities for sensory input and endless opportunities to learn about the world around them; trails to walk, a pond to toss a rock and hear it splash, and trees to watch the leaves sway in the wind.

The program wouldn’t be as life-changing for HKS students without the wonderful MGH staff and a talented and special group of dedicated volunteers to ensure the program is successful. MGH volunteers, some of whom have served over 20 years, come from all walks of life: school families, retired military veterans, former teachers and people who have a love of horses and kids. If you are interested in volunteering, wear closed-toed shoes and clothes you don’t mind getting a little dirty. Don’t worry…it washes off. See you at the barn!