To promote the well-being of persons with disabilities through the provisions of horseback riding and other related activities within a safe and enjoyable atmosphere designed by professionals and implemented primarily by volunteers. CIRT began in 1983 with money from a 4-H grant, borrowed horses and six riders. Today CIRT is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization with ten horses and serves ninety plus riders per week. CIRT is recognized by Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl) formally known as North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA) as a “premier center” – the highest possible level of accreditation, demonstrating a superior level of adherence to national industry standards. Approximately ninety students per year ride at CIRT, ranging in age from three to adult, with a variety of physical, emotional, and mental disabilities including:Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Autism, visual and hearing impairments, learning disabilities, head trauma, strokes, PTSD, and others. CIRT’s staff includes an Program Director, a VolunteerCoordinator, an Equine Coordinator, and five PATH Intl. certified instructors. CIRT provides lessons four days a week, Monday thru Friday, April thru December. Benefits of Therapeutic Riding: Increased balance, strength and flexibility, increased ability to process information, independence and self-confidence, improved language and communication skills, for movement impaired disabilities, horseback riding mimics the human motion of walking in a way unreplicated by any equipment, and increased quality of life—it’s FUN!! Above in photo: Jim Matheny, prospective RSVP/CIRT volunteer, Ashley Kinne, Peoria County Coordinator, and Julia, daughter of Mrs. Kinne. For more information about CIRT click here.
East Peoria High School- Volunteering with Students with Disabilities at the East Peoria High School Cafeteria: A Personal Story
My story starts with searching for a job after being laid off from my job of five years. I never thought that I would come back to the place where I graduated from; I work in the cafeteria of the East Peoria Community High School and help train the students with disabilities. Showing these students how the work place functions out in the real world, I have grown very close to most of them and also earned their trust and respect. My goal is to see them graduate and better themselves for their future, once they leave this high school and find a job in the community. I know that I am not a teacher, but my goal here has been to teach these students what employers expect after high school. Most may go straight into our work force and this is the time to show them what that piece of the world will be like. This process, of working with teens, gave me an opportunity to help prepare them for the demands of the workplace. I’ve learned from them as they have learned from me. I have started to feel that this was what I was supposed to do with my life: this is my way of giving back. Knowing that I can make a difference in these teenager’s lives is a reward in itself. We don’t know how hard their life is outside of school and therefore we want them to know that we are here to help them. They need to learn how to work as a team, what to expect from a supervisor and how to perform the job tasks. They need to understand that finding a job isn’t always going to be easy once they are done with school. We need more people to help show them this and be there for them. These kids will enter the world with blinders on regardless, even as adults we are still blindsided by the challenges of the workplace. However hopefully we can make it a little less foggy for them and better prepare them for their future. I have students that strive to work hard and ask question because they care about what is expected of them in their cafeteria job. We need more people to volunteer and see that they are able to change a life of a teenager. Every day I hope I’ve connected with one of my workers and that they can take what I show them and apply it to another job in the future. It is hard growing up, but it’s up to us to help pave the way for our future generations. So, in conclusion, I would love to see if we could get more people to volunteer with this wonderful program, so that they too may be able reap the rewards of helping our youth, learn about the “real world.”
Call RSVP at 682-8521 for more information.