Star Programs: Mission Statement
Each week S.T.A.R. members enjoy riding on the back of a quarterhorse in the company of caring and knowledgeable assistants. Since 1995, S.T.A.R. has been providing safe, closely supervised riding lessons to physically and/or mentally challenged children (and occasional adults) of Somerset County. In a typical training session, a handicapped child is helped to mount a carefully trained horse, and is then escorted on a ride for twenty minutes by three volunteers, one leading the horse and the other two providing needed support on either side of the horse. Children who have taken part in the program for years have made remarkable progress in both their physical abilities and their social capacities.
To date we have served more than 400 riders through the efforts of over 200 volunteers. The age of our riders covers a span from 2 to 50 years. The physical and mental disabilities of our riders are diverse from Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, Down's Syndrome, Rett's Syndrome, Autism, Traumatic Brain Injury, Learning Disabilities, as well as a number of unclassified birth defects and balance disorders.
We are fortunate in the depth of experience available in our program provided Physical Therapists, Physician Assistants, Teachers, and Physicians. Because of this experience, we feel confident working with riders who have severe disabilities. We also have an energetic group of equestrian volunteers, particularly the 4-H members, who add special expertise in horseback riding instructions.
Riding with S.T.A.R. is a learning, socializing and empowering experience. The riding lessons provided through S.T.A.R. improves strength and coordination. The lessons also build self-esteem and enhance confidence. The rider is enabled to reach into their own life and reach out more to others.
S.T.A.R. has built a cohesive, dedicated, humane unit with an ongoing goal of reaching out to individuals who are isolated by their disabilities, to draw them into the community. It unites people with a common goal of benevolence toward animals and mankind with a year-around sounding board for the disabled.
In S.T.A.R. the ladder of enhancement continues for the disabled to escape isolation. We want to eliminate isolation due to disability. We want to build bonds between riders and coaches. We want volunteers from all walks of life to extend a hand to the disabled. We want to promote mutual understanding.