A grant of $7,500 from Churchill Downs will help fund an equine education program for students at Jefferson County Public Schools’ (“JCPS”) Churchill Park School and Liberty High School.
Churchill Downs officials presented a check for that amount on Tuesday, Sept. 8 to representatives of Upside Therapeutic Riding, Inc., a non-profit organization that will conduct the equine education program for 15 students with learning differences that are enrolled in the two schools. The students will range in age from 13 to 18 years old. The program utilizes hippotherapy, which promotes the use of the movement of the horse as a treatment strategy in physical, occupational and speech-language therapy sessions for people with physical or learning challenges.
The grant was accepted by Kim Wheatley-Alexander, the executive director of Upside Therapeutic Riding, Inc., during a presentation ceremony at Churchill Park School, which is located at 435 Boxley Avenue, just a few blocks from the historic home of the Kentucky Derby. Churchill Park School has an enrollment of more than 200 students who are medically fragile and have severe cognitive or behavior challenges. Liberty High School, located at 3307 East Indian Trail, is a nontraditional school that serves students throughout the JCPS system who meet a wide range of criteria.
The program developed by Upside Therapeutic Riding, Inc. will provide instruction on horse anatomy, riding, basic care of the horse, and horse and barn management skills. The offerings at Churchill Park School and Liberty High School are designed to provide physical, psychological, educational and social benefits to participating students. It will also provide a vocational option to some of those students.
“The program planned for students at Churchill Park School and Liberty High School is very exciting and Churchill Downs is pleased to play a role in providing this wonderful opportunity to students at those schools with our grand to Upside Therapeutic Riding,” said Dana Johnson, director of community relations for Churchill Downs. “Our company has been a supporter of hippotherapy programs and the opportunities for learning and progress these special programs provide to children throughout our community. We have long admired Churchill Park School and the great work that is done there and are happy to be involved with this new effort that will benefit students at Liberty High School, which is a very important option in the outstanding Jefferson County Public Schools.”