Stories From Main Street: Four-Legged Therapy For Special Children In Nanuet
NANUET, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) - They can’t always explain it, but something magical happens at the Children of Promise Stable in Nanuet.
WCBS 880’s Sean Adams On The Story
Cerebral Palsy keeps 8-year-old Jack Fredericks in a wheelchair. But, otherwise he is bright, polite, and eager to try new experiences like riding on a horse named Amigo.
“He just lights up like a Christmas tree when he comes here,” said Jack’s dad John as he walked alongside one of the equine therapy sessions. “For somebody like Jack who doesn’t walk, he’s high up. He’s mimicking what walking would be by the motion of the horse and he’s straight up and erect and he’s kind of on top of the world.”
“[The goal is] to strengthen his muscles in his calves and in his central core. With the motion of the horse moving it really helps. He’s balancing,” program director Nancy Galdi told WCBS 880 reporter Sean Adams. “It’s empowering. They’re in control. They’re looking down at us. They’re looking down at us. You know, they’re used to looking constantly up at other individuals all day long. They’re in charge. It’s fun.”
At the end of his ride, Jack was pumped up and pushed his own wheelchair all the way to the parking lot.
“You looked fantastic,” Adams told him.
“Thank you,” Jack said.
“Did you have a good ride today?” asked Adams.
“Yeah,” said Jack.
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For some children, the interaction with the horse unlocks mysteries.
10-year-old Ryan Dolan is autistic and nonverbal. His dad Joe has heard his son speak on horseback.
“He tells them you go to walk on,” Joe said. “Occasionally, he’ll tell amigo to walk on. That’s a command that you tell the horse. That’s crazy.”
“They bond with the animals. They love the animals. Magic happens here,” Galdi said.
John Fredericks is helping to raise money to build an indoor arena for a year-round equine therapy.
“[We’re doing it in memory of New York City firefighter Thomas Foley, who was tragically killed on 9/11. He was a Rockland resident, fantastic guy. He believed in what this forum could do for special needs kids,” Fredericks said. “It’s absolutely wonderful. I mean, the things that it does for not just Jack, but all the kids, it’s very special.”