During the early days of the pandemic, a small coalition of Executive Directors came together to triage and problem solve ways to navigate the need to pivot youth programs into a fully virtual context and the operational and financial implications of this shift. It was through these zoom calls that City Kids ED, Sarah Cryder, met Kelsey Gallagher, ED of the Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program (NVTRP).
NVTRP mission is to help individuals realize their highest potential by providing equine-assisted activities to people with disabilities, youth-at-risk, recovering military personnel, and others in need in an inclusive, community setting. It is no secret that horseback riding on the ranch during camp at Broken Arrow is by far the favorite activity of City Kids youth, and the organization has been making efforts to more deeply incorporate horseback riding into the City Kids DC experience during our school year programming.
As a result, Sarah and Kelsey began to brainstorm on ways that they could get City Kids youth out to the O’Shaughnessy Farm in Fairfax County, about a 45-minute drive from DC. Because of the pandemic, a lesson wouldn’t happen immediately, but after 18 months of brainstorming on ways to work together, City Kids and NVTRP are making their partnership official.
To kick off the fall season, City Kids full-time staff participated in a full day of riding, team building, and horse therapy at NVTRP’s farm. The experience was such a wonderful way to be together as a team after many months of virtual coworking– it was quite the reunion! Additionally, small groups of CK youth will begin traveling out to the NVTRP property for lessons this fall and next spring.
“We are thrilled to be getting more kids on horses in DC, and are so lucky to have found such a supportive and collaborative partner in NVTRP,” said Rodney Fuller, Director of Programs, DC. “There are some real horse lovers amongst the staff and kids, and we really enjoyed our time with the horses as a team.”
As a part of City Kids strategic planning efforts, the organization is going to be exploring ways to deepen youth experience in particular sports, and the partnership with NVTRP is one way that we are piloting this concept.