It’s Monday, January 14, and we are off to the Red Mountain Therapeutic Riding Centre, a JNF project, at Kibbutz Grofit. Little did we know what we would find!
Kathy Shoval, program coordinator, led us through a video that described the program for children and young adults with various developmental physical, emotional and learning disorders, as well as, chronic illnesses and syndromes.
The riding therapy is conducted through the medium of horseback riding where the client is able to experience muscle and joint movement and sensation that they cannot get by any other treatment. The program coordinator is a young woman, originally from Montreal. One of the therapists is a young man, Ami, from Toronto, whose family is heavily involved in the program.
We were able to see one young boy who we were told had progressed noticeable since starting the program. All the riders, not matter the degree of physical impairment mount and ride the horse either independently with side walkers for support or with therapists mounted on the horse and supporting the rider from the back. Volunteers are an integral part of this program.
I was excited to see that such a program (and about 30 others) existed in Israel because I worked to recruit volunteers for a similar agency in Toronto. Having told Kathy that, she let us know that in the fall of 2008 an event planned by the Red Mountain Centre would be held in Toronto. I hope to attend! After the presentation as often happens. We were treated with drinks and sweats (after all – we haven’t had food for 2 hours!)Our next stop was at Kibbutz Ketura where we learned about the Arava Institute their impact on students from the region. Elaine Soloway, an expert in usage of plants for medicinal purposes, took us for a tour of her “garden”. Wow – does she know her plants! We mingled with the students from the Arava Institute and kibbutz for a nice hot lunch (it is still cold, very cold here). This sustained us for our next visit with Ron Bernstein, a member of Kibbutz Yahel. We visited their pomelo fields, tasted the tasty fruit and picked a few ourselves. Great day!!!!