St. Louis, MO – November 9, 2016 – The four members of Arnold Girl Scout Troop 2033 wanted to find a way to help children in their community and earn the Girl Scout Silver Award. They spent weeks researching many options, including programs that serve children in foster care, children with incarcerated parents and children who are homeless. After several meetings and voting, the group decided to work with Helping Hands and Horses, an equine therapy program for children with special needs. The girls saw an opportunity to add new activities to the program after volunteering at the site with their middle school.
Equine therapy involves interactions between an individual and a horse and is used for individuals with physical, cognitive and emotional issues. This type of therapy has been credited for improving patients’ balance, muscle tone, coordination and self-confidence, among many other benefits.
Girl Scouts Bridget Angus, Jessica Huck, Alexis Maly and Krista Waldron, all freshmen at Fox High School, decided Helping Hands and Horses’ outdoor sensory course could use some new activities for the children to enjoy. Each girl took the lead on creating, building and installing a new activity for participants to engage with during their therapy session while on the horse.
The activities created by the Girl Scouts will help riders improve fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Waldron created wind chimes of various lengths and colors allowing riders to create different sounds. Maly made a Bimini activity pole, a T-shaped pole that has hooks down the middle with rings hanging from strings of varying lengths from the edges, allowing riders to exercise their gross motor skills while balancing on the horse. Huck designed and created the puzzle board featuring six shapes for the participant to place into the correct slot. Angus created a latch board with different types of latches and ties to help riders practice their fine motor skills.
“From doing this project, I learned that even though something may be hard, it is always worth the effort,” Angus said. “I was able to make something that took many hours to plan, build and install without giving up.”
While the troop worked individually on each element that was added to the course, they each played a role in the overall success of their Silver Award project. They decided as a troop that their proceeds earned from their participation in the Girl Scout Cookie and Fall Product Program would finance the project, in addition to soliciting material donations. Each girl averaged over 50 hours on this achievement. Every girl led an aspect of the project including communicating with the staff at Helping Hands and Horses, gathering materials, day-of installation and creating a plan for sustainability and maintenance of the projects.
Each girl credited her fellow troop members for helping each other overcome obstacles. They also learned a lot about their leadership styles and individual strengths.
“It meant the world to the riders at Helping Hands and Horses,” Waldron said. “Until you witness it with your own eyes, it’s nearly impossible to describe the magic of helping somebody and seeing the results your work has produced.”
Waldron also created a video to help promote Helping Hands and Horses that was shared at the Autism Walk at Fox Middle School. The video is being used by Fox Middle School to promote Autism awareness and the Autism Walk they host annually.
“They spent many hours on this project over the past eight months working independently and as a team,” Troop Leader Tracey Waldron said. “They continue to inspire me with their kind hearts, smart and creative minds and all-around awesome personalities.”
The Girl Scout Silver Award is the highest award attainable for Girl Scout Cadettes, girls in grades six through eight. Earning the Award puts girls among an exceptional group of Girl Scouts who have used their knowledge and leadership skills to make a difference in the world. In 2016, over 170 Girl Scouts in eastern Missouri have earned this award.