WARRINGTON, Pa. /Send2Press Newswire/ — A dedication to their young clients has led Deb Saffren and Kim Hartranft, two Occupational Therapists at Special Equestrians, to broaden the scope of their work in animal assisted therapies. Every Monday Deb and Kim come to work at Special Equestrians providing Hippotherapy, which is Occupational Therapy on the back of the horse. “During this interaction, I know that the child does not feel like they are participating in yet another therapy session. Instead, they are riding a horse,” says Deb Saffern, “I know this, because I see their smiles and hear their laughter. What they are usually not aware of is that we are working on strengthening range of motion, balance, postural reflexes, right/left discrimination, gross and fine motor skills, communication, visual perception, and cognitive and social skills.”
Their work with Therapy Dogs offers the benefit of unconditional, non-judgmental love; another type of therapy session which can be pleasurable as well as productive. Therapy Dogs encourage engagement in physical and educational activities. Dogs also help increase the desire to cooperate, and reduce distractions while increasing attention spans. Deb Saffren and her dog Cody, a Certified Therapy Dog, volunteer their time for the Roxy Reading Program in the Central Bucks School District.
Kim Hartranft and her dog also named Cody, who is both a Canine Good Citizen and a Certified Therapy Dog, volunteer in the Colonial School District where Kim is also a school based therapist. Kim says “Therapy dogs are calm companions who help relieve stress, anxiety and loneliness. Dogs bring a pleasant distraction and reduce negative feelings, thoughts and concerns. They provide a positive diversion from prolonged periods of repetitive behavior and activities.”
Whether these women are with the Therapy Horses at Special Equestrians, or in the school systems with their Therapy Dogs, they are making a positive impact in so many ways. “I am having the opportunity to take part in a magical and fun interaction between child and animal,” reflects Deb Saffren, “If you love what you do, you’ll never have to work a day in your life. So basically I don’t look at what I do as work.” This positive attitude is one more feature Kim and Deb share with everyone around them.
Special Equestrians, a Forbes Enterprise Award winner, is a 501(c)3 non-profit Therapeutic Riding Program located at 2800 Street Road in Warrington, Pennsylvania. Our mission is to improve the physical, mental, and emotional well being of individuals with disabilities through the equine experience. Founded in 1982 Special Equestrians has grown from a one horse, one rider, one volunteer program to a thriving organization with 9 horses, 17 staff members, and over 100 volunteers serving 125 children and adults with emotional, mental and physical disabilities each year.
For more information please call 215-918-1001, or visit our website at www.specialequestrians.org .
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