RIDE FOR THEIR LIVES, a fundraising event that will provide financial assistance for 30 children to participate in Equine Alliance Youth Foundation’s Partnership for Youth Transition Academy and Equine Experiential Healing Therapy programs will take place on Sunday, September 29, 2013, from 10 am to 3 pm at Cass Vineyards, 7350 Linne Rd., Paso Robles. Bring your own horse, rent a horse, ride the vineyards and Huer Huero creek, take a carriage ride, or just sit back in the shade of the majestic oak trees and enjoy award winning Cass wines, a superb buffet lunch and music by internationally acclaimed guitarists Tony Harmon & Nathan Towne. Tickets are a $100 per person tax deductible donation and can be purchased at www.equinealliance.org.

Equine Alliance Youth Foundation is a non-profit organization that provides year-round emotional and physical healing services for children throughout Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties using equine-based therapy. Equine Alliance programs, designed by mental health professionals, empower children by providing effective behavioral intervention and education that engage each child in his or her own life improvement process. The majority of children assisted by Equine Alliance have been abused, neglected and abandoned. Many of the horses have also been abused, neglected and abandoned. The horses heal the children; the children heal the horses.

To date, more than 2,000 children have benefited from the programs, according to Lori Harmon, the founder and director of Equine Alliance. Children are torn and uprooted from their homes and asked to be OK in unfamiliar foster homes. Imagine children aged 3 or 8 being bounced around again and again until they have reached age 18, and then being thrown out of the foster care system on their own. Sadly, that is the reality for hundreds of children in our own communities. They aren’t orphans in Africa or a third world country. They live in our neighborhoods, attend the same schools as our own children. They are our communities’ forgotten foster children and simply cannot exist without help from our community. Equine Alliance’s equine-based therapy programs are designed to help children of all ages. Animal assisted therapy can play a critical role in the therapeutic treatment of these traumatized children who not only benefit from the presence of the animals, but play a role in the care of the horses. When children “age out” of the foster care system, Equine Alliance, with the help of its mentors, assist its youth gain the skills they need to be successful in the workplace. They provide job readiness curriculum which includes resume writing, mock interviews, clothing and other pre-employment skills required for a successful job search.”

A career development program has also been designed to help young adults explore career possibilities while setting goals for the future. Harmon recognizes that post-secondary education for youth is crucial to serious career development and realizing the dreams of the participants for a rewarding, productive adulthood. Thus, Equine Alliance Youth Foundation mentors assist participants with college applications and financial aid forms, demystifying the college application process and helping young adults realize their post-secondary education aspirations, which many can find intimidating and overwhelming.

Donations are needed to sustain these programs and this month’s fundraiser is a prime way for others to help. A tax deductible contribution to Ride For Their Lives at equinealliance.org. or a donation of any size and scale, is an investment in our community’s youth and future. Equine Alliance receives no government or state funding and has no paid administration. This means that 100 percent of donations go directly to support local children and young adults and assists them with the challenges of entering adulthood while gaining the tools to achieve their full potential as adults to become our next generation of leaders, hard workers, engaged citizens and effective parents.


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