Should horses become part of the curriculum?

Mental health and well-being is becoming a more openly talked about subject in the Furness area. It has been identified as one of the key areas where improvements need to be made in adults and children. Education is no longer just about being academic; the need for educating children in resilience, emotional competence and confidence is becoming apparent. We are seeing children leave education to step into the world of adulthood, lacking the tools they need to take on the responsibility that comes with maturity. However, schools are not equipped to educate children in this way, nor should they be expected to be. This is a specialized area that is more suited to outsourced providers that have the relevant training and expertise to fill this gap.

Have you ever considered that horses could be the trained experts?

HorseHeard uses the technique of Equine Facilitated Learning to assist in their developmental programmes. Using horses as a medium is what gives the students the feedback and dramatic insight into their actions and behaviours. Horses mirror and react to human’s emotions and state of being. It is how they communicate in a herd through body language. This level of communication can give a child an insight into how they come across to others, how their actions are seen by others and what areas they need to develop in.  Last year, they had great results in the Furness area after working with the Big Lottery Fund to roll out the Cumbria HeadStart programme. The programme was aimed towards pupils in Year 6 to prepare them for the changes that comes with moving to secondary school. The charity worked with students that were in the most need of an alternative approach, to learn about themselves and gain the tools they need to develop emotional resilience and confidence.

With every programme, HorseHeard can help up to 12 students in any one group. As with most charities, they are constantly in need for funding to help put on these programmes for schools in the area and to help children who need that something extra. This year, HorseHeard underwent a massive fundraising rally. The fundraising used the spirit of challenge, as well as their love for working with horses, by taking on the Equine Coast to Coast hosted and supported by Bigland Hall Equine Group from Ulverston, as well as taking part in the Ben Nevis Charity Challenge .

Through this fundraising effort they managed to raise enough money to fully fund 5 programmes around the country, one focused in South Cumbria. It has just been confirmed that there will be 12 students attending from 2 different schools in the area, Furness Academy and Dowdales school. This programme is a chance for those 12 students to get a new perspective on learning, and to see themselves in a new light.

On the programme the students will focus on acknowledging similarities and differences; expressing feelings, caring for one’s self and others, as well as developing communication and recognising that everyone has the potential to enhance their relationships and choose their behaviours.

The core outcomes from this programme are about developing and maintaining friendship and community, specifically:

– Develop and maintain friendships;

– Work with and care for others;

– Increase confidence and self-esteem, and;

– Reduce inappropriate behavior through awareness of choice.

HorseHeard is honoured to be putting on this programme, however they have a goal to help 250 children across the country in this year alone. To do this they need support from the public, schools and students alike.

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