Residents of Pilot Knob Avenue managed to get a decades-old manure dump cleaned up but nearly killed the Leg Up Therapeutic Riding Center in the process.
But founders Debra Rose and Deb Steddom were determined to open their riding center to help troubled girls who are residential clients of the Children’s ARK program in Green Mountain Falls.
So they surrendered rather than continue the Manitou Manure War. In fact, they abandoned Manitou altogether and relocated to the Academy Riding Stables on El Paso Boulevard on the west side of Colorado Springs. Here is a view from FlashEarth.com:
Here is a link: www.arsriding.com/
The stable offers one- and two-hour rides into the nearby Garden of the Gods. And co-owner Bruce Armstrong said he had plenty of room in his corrals for the riding center program. Here is a map of the area:
So every Monday through Thursday, Rose and Steddom take four girls and four horses into a back lot for two hours of therapy. The girls learn how to care for horses and ride them. In the process, they learn teamwork and cooperation, trust and self-confidence.
Academy Riding Stables co-owner Bruce Armstrong says the horses love the attention from the girls and hopes the program becomes permanent.
The girls are from Children’s ARK, a residential treatment program for troubled boys and girls ages 10-18 years of age. The program is intended to treat non-violent juveniles who have failed in other foster home environments.
Here are photos from one of last week’s Leg Up therapy sessions courtesy of Rose. Steddom is on the left in the photos. The girls have their backs to the camera. Rose is in a pink shirt on the right:
Here is a link to the program’s Web site: http://childrens-ark.org
Jedd Hafer, director of development, said the program is working wonders for the girls who are participating. He invites calls at 719-684-8001 or 719-325-5244.
This is an excerpt from a 2002 story in The Gazette about Children’s ARK:
Eric and Jean Ann West started the group in 1994. A lumberyard manager and stay-at-home-mom, the couple sold their house in California for seed money. Now the nonprofit has 120 full-time employees and a $4.3 million budget made up mostly of Medicaid, state and local government money.
The youth who come to Children’s ARK, typically for nine to 12 months, are among the hardest of the hard cases.
They’re Coloradans, referred by social service agencies from counties statewide and two Indian tribes. They range in age from 10 to 18.
Most kids have three or four mental problems, such as bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, executive director Valita Speedie said.
Those terms do little to describe what they’ve been through, she said: A boy whose father sexually abused him and passed him around to his male friends. A boy chained to the toilet by his parents. A girl whose mother sold her into prostitution.
Youth attend an on-site school, see a psychiatrist and get group and individual treatment from therapists.
The group doesn’t use padded rooms or mechanical restraints. The goal, Speedie said, is to give unconditional love.