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Detroit Horse Power: Developing youth through horses

Update – June 27, 2023

“Our children can’t dream of being what they don’t see,” explained a mother whose children prior to joining Detroit Horse Power, had never seen a horse much less ridden one. She articulates a difficult reality for many youth and the reason The Foundation supports programs like Detroit Horse Power – to empower and prepare youth for a future beyond their imagination.

In 2022, Detroit Horse Power responded to the urgent needs of Detroit’s youth by increasing program enrollment to serve nearly 140 children, providing them with year-round programming or a free summer horse camp experience – enabled by a grant from The Children’s Foundation.

“One of my proudest moments was when my daughter joined the Youth Leadership Council of Detroit Horse Power,” said the same parent whose daughter had become a role model to her sibling and peers, using her new leadership skills to teach equestrians. As a graduate of DHP, her daughter had new confidence and believed she could go on to reach her greatest potential in her journey after high school.

Detroit Horse Power revealed a world of opportunities to under-resourced Detroit youth with character building experiences; providing valuable skills that will last them for a lifetime.

The Children’s Foundation awarded a $30,000 grant to Detroit Horse Power for youth development in 2022.

Original Story – June 2, 2022:

“The first time I got on a pony was really scary for me,” said Maddie, a high school freshman who has been a participant of Detroit Horse Power since 2021.

“I’m a little afraid of heights so I was nervous. I had a lot of anxiety, but afterward I was calm and proud of myself. Getting on the horse even though I was scared is what we call responsible risk-taking,” she continued.

For a few hours every week after school, Maddie and other Detroit Horse Power participants gather at the Marygrove Conservancy Campus to engage in evidence-based curriculum, which uses riding and caring for horses to better understand perseverance, empathy, responsible risk-taking, confidence, and self-control; long- term skills to set them up for academic, career, and life-success.

Working independently and in teams, students learn about horse-related elements and gear, equestrian sports, as well as how to behave around horses, “like learning how to feed them so they don’t eat our fingers,” as Maddie explained.

Throughout the program, students work on group and individual presentations about horse breeds, the life of a horse, and other topics to ultimately improve their collaborative skills, time management, public speaking abilities, and more.

Students then apply what they’ve learned through hands-on practice at once-per-month barn visits, which are enabled with $30,000 in support from The Children’s Foundation.

“The barn days are a continuation of the afterschool programming and always the students’ favorite part,” said Andrea Daldin, Program Manager, Detroit Horse Power. “For most students, they have never been to a barn before or seen chickens and goats running around – or touched a horse. Their eyes light up with excitement and curiosity.”

Since its founding in 2015, hundreds of Detroit youth have been impacted by this unique youth development programming, guiding them to and through college, and beyond.

“We have seen students start out very anxious, unsure, and timid. Through Detroit Horse Power programming they really come into their own,” Andrea said.

Detroit Horse Power has witnessed countless success stories, helping students to develop the skills that lead them to academic and equestrian scholarships, as well as career opportunities. By harnessing the power of horses, students are learning about themselves, capabilities, and desires – riding into their futures.

“I want to be a veterinarian one day,” Maddie shared. “And I’m going to own my own horse.”

With the skill set she is attaining with Detroit Horse Power, she is one step closer to her goal.

Help us improve the health and wellness of more children and families.

You can help us reach more children and families by making a gift to The Children’s Foundation. Click here to make your gift.

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