The steadily rising number of children with special needs over the past two decades has been an overriding concern for educators, public health experts, and policymakers. According to estimates by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in seven children is affected by some form of disability, which places a severe strain on public resources and takes a heavy toll on families, both from an emotional and financial perspective. In recent years, some of the attention has shifted to alternative solutions, and equine-assisted therapy (EAT) is proving to be especially effective for children with special needs, explains — Alexa Rostovksy, a student at the Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles, California. She has witnessed the benefits first-hand through her involvement with AHEAD WITH HORSES – a non-profit organization helping children with disabilities maximize their potential through developmental therapy, education, and recreation.
In EAT, individuals interact with horses and therapeutic riding instructors to acquire communication, socialization, motor control, and sensory processing skills. Through a series of exercises, children with severe disabilities apply traditionally practiced methods while engaging with the animals and performing tasks in motion on horseback. This provides a multi-dimensional challenge in an environment outside of their familiar one. “It is incredible to witness a little boy go from barely standing up by himself to being on top of a moving horse with a wide smile on his face. I have met many parents who tell me the therapy has transformed their child’s life,” says Alexa Rostovsky who works with kids who have disabilities or behavioral issues or come from troubled backgrounds. With support from volunteers like her, they meet and bond with their assigned horse, climbing atop it and learning to ride. The activity has been shown to build core strength as well as help the children gain self-esteem, discipline, and empathy while also experiencing joy.
EAT is often used in treating a wide spectrum of conditions, among them substance abuse, behavioral disorders, learning difficulties, ADD/ADHD, autism, Asperger's, grief, loss, trauma, bipolar disorders, and depression. “Horses have no preconceived expectations or motives, and they are non-judgmental, highly intelligent, and exceedingly perceptive, so they connect with people in a completely new way,” Alexa Rostovsky points out. “This is different from anything these children have experienced at school. It is not about discipline or grading but about facing something entirely foreign and reaching their own milestones. Witnessing the confidence and pride that comes with accomplishing something so new to them is exceptionally rewarding.”
An exemplary student and dedicated volunteer, Alexa Rostovksy donates much of her time to community service and social initiatives supporting various worthy causes. Recognized by her school with the Humanitas Award, she is involved in numerous projects at different non-profit organizations, including The Grossman Burn Foundation, AHEAD WITH HORSES, and a remote reading program for children with learning disabilities. In her spare time, Alexa Rostovksy indulges her passion for the flute, culinary art, dance, and horseback riding.
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Alexa Rostovsky Joins the Grossman Burn Foundation Youth Ambassadors Board: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/alexa-rostovsky-joins-grossman-burn-213500495.html
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