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Nonprofits Partner to Assist Individuals with Disabilities Through Their Shared Love of Animals

Updated: Jan 30, 2023


Cherry the Horse happily smiling with TMI Division Manager Andrea Rivera, TMI Job Coach Robin Harrington and our clients Karljon, Jakkraphol and Erin
Cherry the Horse happily smiling with TMI Division Manager Andrea Rivera, TMI Job Coach Robin Harrington and our clients Karljon, Jakkraphol and Erin

Erin enjoying time on the ranch
Erin enjoying time on the ranch

Clients with the Toward Maximum Independence (TMI) Community Integration Day Program for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities have begun volunteering at EQUU8 Horsemanship and Therapeutic Riding in Murrieta, a nonprofit riding program that is dedicated to providing equal opportunities to enrich lives through equine-assisted activities.


The partnership between TMI and EQUU8 was developed through TMI Job Coach Robin Harrington networking with a fellow TMI Job Coach. This in turn led to her contacting and meeting Elena Young at EQUU8 who assisted Robin’s group consisting of Karljon, Jordon and Erin with getting started on the ranch.

Karljon working on the ranch
Karljon working on the ranch

With Robin’s assistance, the group is excelling at this volunteer site. They greatly enjoy getting to be around the animals. Robin, who has done a wonderful job finding varying sites for her clients to learn different skills such as at EQUU8, shared with us a little bit about the group.


Q. How has TMI assisted the clients?

A. By involving them in an activity that they eagerly look forward to participating in. They love working on the ranch! The clients assist in cleaning the property, as well as feeding, watering, and grooming of the animals.

Q. What do the clients love most about EQUU8?

A. Their favorite part is the interaction with the animals, as well as learning the responsibility of taking care of the animals and when the animals show them love in return.

Q. What challenges have they faced?

Jordan happily assisting the horses
Jordan happily assisting the horses

A. The greatest challenge was for Jordan because of his initial fear of animals.

Q. How was this resolved?

A. In working so closely with the animals, Jordan’s anxiety and fear of animals was significantly reduced. It is something he came to enjoy doing!

Q. Can the clients tell us about working on the ranch?

A. Erin says that is the place she looks forward to the most! Karljon says that the ranch is one of his favorite places. He can’t wait to get out of the car and start working there. Karljon now requires little direction after learning the routine of the tasks that he loves to do. Jordan said that he is happy that he has made significant progress in overcoming his fear of animals.

The group, who also volunteers at the Temecula Museum, Painted Earth, Centerpoint Church, Noah’s Ark, Habitat for Humanity, Grocery Outlet, and Cultivating Inclusion, truly care about the work that they are doing as well as one another.

Erin at work on the ranch
Erin at work on the ranch

The ranch in particular has been an especially important and fun addition to the groups enjoyment, interaction, progress, and cohesion,” said TMI Division Manager Andrea Rivera. “I love working with this group, interacting with them, and seeing them make progress. It is very fulfilling seeing them do something that they love. These horses are therapy trained. The ranch helps veterans with PTSD, children of abuse, and so much more. Robin has said this site has been such a blessing to her and her clients. She has shown great care and attention to her group and has sought out amazing opportunities for them. Thank you, Robin! As a team, we are very grateful for the partnership with EQUU8.”


We are extremely happy to see this awesome TMI group doing what they love while learning new skills! Please visit EQUU8 for more information about their services. Great job, everyone!


Andrea, Robin, Karljon, and Erin with Elena Young at EQUU8
Andrea, Robin, Karljon, and Erin with Elena Young at EQUU8

The TMI Community Integration Training Program (CITP) is designed as a vocational and social skills training program to recognize, develop and build the necessary skills for our clients to participate in their community, all at the level at which the client chooses. Clients generally start the process by volunteering throughout the community at various sites. They continue at their own speed, in line with their desires and abilities, while working toward their own personal goals.


(Editor's Note: Jordan recently moved groups with TMI and is no longer volunteering on the ranch, but he is grateful for the time he spent there conquering his fears.)

 

Toward Maximum Independence (TMI) has been transforming the lives of children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities since 1981 and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing since 2000. In 2020, we launched Disabled Veteran Employment Services. TMI strives to help our clients to realize their hopes and dreams by providing Employment Solutions, Community Living and Family Support Services throughout San Diego, Riverside and Imperial Counties. To stay connected with us, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Together we can share acceptance and awareness, ultimately contributing to further inclusion.

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