As you drive down this winding road in SW Lake County, you’ll see beautiful homes with large, gently sloping yards, multiple signs advertising hunter/jumper training and maybe even a horse and rider or two out for a leisurely ride. What you won’t see, unless you know where to look, are the every-day miracles happening at Partners for Progress (PFP) on Milton Road.
“Partners for Progress was created from tragedy to a calling,” says Executive Director Diane Helgeland.
Years ago, after a family tragedy prompted her then-husband to purchase a run-down horse farm, Diane launched PFP. Today, PFP is non-profit therapeutic riding barn with 20+ horses serving more than 200 children and adults with physical, mental and emotional disabilities. With their unique 3Q program – Quality of Programs and Quality of Horses = Quality of Life – the therapists identify specific goals for each participant, and the volunteers, horses and instructors work to help participants overcome their challenges to live life to the fullest. Overall, PFP riders have maintained a 79% goal achievement rate for the last six years.
How? With hippotherapy (from the Greek word hippos, meaning horse), which literally means treatment with the help of a horse. A horse’s gait mimics a human gait, so by conducting physical, occupational or speech therapy while riding, the student interacts with and responds to the movement of the horse, causing the brain to respond as though the student is walking, so the progress continues even after they are off the horse. Improvements are often seen in the respiratory, cognitive, sensory processing, balance, and speech/language functions, many times beyond what traditional therapy can achieve. For example, here’s Evan’s story, as told by his father:
“Twenty-four years ago, Evan was a frustrated (and frustrating) toddler with pervasive developmental delays, including severe speech and communication disabilities. We sought out the best doctors, therapists and special needs teachers we could find, but it was clear that Evan’s future would most likely be limited. Then he took a riding class at PFP. Before long, he was riding independently. In 2008 he began a part-time job at PFP that completely changed his life; he began to open up, talk more and make new friends. Some days when I take Evan to the barn, I watch him with the horses and I can’t help but wonder what his life would have been if he wasn’t introduced to this program. It gives him so much joy and confidence and watching him brings tears to my eyes. What seemed to have been a limited future is now a pathway to freedom and independence for Evan.”
To learn more about PFP and their programs, visit their website at partnersforprogressnfp.org or find them on Facebook. Volunteers are always needed, so stop by a monthly orientation session and help make even more miracles on Milton Road.
Upcoming PFP Events (tickets available at partnersforprogressnfp.org)
+ Kentucky Derby Gala: Lindy’s Landing, Wauconda, May 6
+ Rust-Oleum Golf Championship: Ivanhoe Club, Ivanhoe, June 4-10
+ Hoe-Down Gala: Canlan Sports Center, Barrington, September 8