Lead The Way Equestrian Center For Girls was formed to help support at risk girls ages 9-15. Our goal is to reach the girls prior to law interaction, prior to truancy, prior to addiction, prior to attempting suicide.
We believe an at risk girl is a girl who is struggling for any reason. She may have just moved, she may have a parent who is deployed, she may be in state care, she may be bullied, painfully shy, struggling to fit in or struggling with depression. She may have a chronically / terminally ill parent or sibling, she may have, or is being abused or neglected. She may be from a disadvantaged home where there is no extra money for any outside activities. She may be living in a home plagued with addiction issues. We all know a struggling girl, and with your help, you can help make a life changing difference for a girl.
Our goal is to keep offering this program for free, to provide the transportation, thereby removing the barriers that keep struggling girls from finding a natural healthy outlet which allow their minds to rest.
Although we are largely an equine based program, we have incorporated programs like digital arts to help the girls look for and see beauty in everyday things. We have a horticulture program where the girls learn to research, plan, plant, market and maintain a vegetable garden, floral plots, and fruit trees. They will research healthy ways to use their fresh vegetables and fruits.
The girls will physically see what happens when they let the "weeds" in their lives go unchecked. They will learn how hard it is to uproot weeds that have taken hold and go deeper and when left totally unchecked, how the weeds completely take over choking off healthy growth. The girls will visually see the beautiful rewards of removing weeds early and maintaining a "healthy" environment.
We teach life skills like cooking, laundry, budgeting, and shopping to better prepare the girls for being on their own. The equine portion is huge, we see amazing changes with girls who are involved with horses. A few years ago I held a Tween Camp, we had a tough hard-shelled girl named Chel who came to camp. Chel didn't want to be there she felt like she was being babysat. She wouldn't talk to the girls the entire first day, so the next morning I took her out to meet all the horses here.
I told her their stories. Some had been neglected, some abused before they came to us. She fell in love with a boarded horse named Rusty. Everyday thereafter she would come in, and go right out to see him. She would kiss his Muzzle and hug him, when she was having a tough day she would go out in the paddock and just talk with him. By the third day she was laughing and giggling, by the end of the first week she wanted another week. And at the end of the second we both cried because she would not be coming back.
The transformation was amazing, the hard shelled girl was unfolding allowing her natural beautiful self to emerge, a gift I will always treasure, and now hope to offer to many girls.
Horses have the same fight of flight instinct that at risk girls have. Girls need to learn patience, cooperation, team work, and trust. When you see the girls giggling, chatting, or sharing a soft and even unspoken word with their horse, you are observing a changing girl. We are truly blessed, and honored to be given the experience of watching beautiful flowers unfolding.
The very best part is it's all experienced in a natural environment, they come into it on their own, and when they look back into their creative writing journals, it will tell their story for them to treasure always.