Since 2012 I have toured non-stop across America, using my concerts to help good causes raise money and awareness for their important work. Two of the greatest gifts from this adventure are that I get to learn about causes I had no idea existed, and I have the good fortune of meeting the incredible people behind those organizations and seeing first-hand how they are working to improve the lives of people within their own community. Such was the case when my tour rolled into Saugatuck, Michigan on a chilly October day in 2015 to help support Renew Therapeutic Riding Center based in nearby Holland.
Located 35 minutes southwest of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Holland is a city on the shore of Lake Macatawa. Well known for its much-photographed Big Red Lighthouse that stands by the channel connecting the smaller lake to Lake Michigan, it is also the home of Renew Therapeutic Riding Center, a non-profit organization that provides equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) to children and adults with physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities. Their horse-centered programs allow riders to achieve cognitive, social and emotional development resulting in increased self-esteem and independence.
With an hour to spare before sound check I visited their amazing facility, met a few of the riders they serve and got a private tour of their brand new barn and riding arena. The recent construction includes a heated indoor arena, office space, a parent/visitor observation room, a large tack room, four horse stalls, and half mile-long track for trail rides.
Renew Therapeutic Riding Center is also a Premier Accredited Center with the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH International). The mission at PATH International is to promote safety and optimal outcomes in EAATs for individuals with special needs, brain or physical injury, or PTSD. With over 850 certified centers in the United States and around the world, PATH International is a global authority, resource and advocate for EAAT. The horses help to inspire and enrich the human spirit.
Renew is one of only a few accredited centers in the southwestern section of Michigan. Find a PATH International Accredited Center near you by visiting their website.
The bond between humans and animals has long been known to provide mutual therapeutic benefits. Animals have a healing effect on people, and animal-assisted therapy has been used for centuries. In particular, equine therapy has a great deal of therapeutic value. At-risk youth, veterans, children with autism and other developmental disabilities and patients with dementia have all benefitted from equine therapy.
Equine therapy is frequently used to help veterans in the healing process of PTSD and even in physical therapy. PATH International Equine Services for Heroes works with the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers and Clinics to provide EAATs to help veterans heal, as well as help veterans become certified to help other veterans in need. By getting veterans active, and giving them a safe place to talk to others, rather than remaining isolated in their homes, EAAT can help prevent suicide, as well as help veterans cope with traumatic brain injury and PTSD.
My concert at the beautiful Saugatuck Center for the Arts to benefit Renew Therapeutic Riding Center went off without a hitch. I had a great night performing for a crowd that understands what an important role the center plays in their community and how much good they are doing for those that need it most. Learn more and donate at their website to help continue their cause!
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Scott Helmer is a Musician, Author, and host of The Scott Helmer Show. His blog is a tribute to the people, places, and things that make life worth living, and a reminder to follow your dreams, believe in yourself and never give up. Read more and sign-up to get his blog delivered directly to your inbox. Contact & Booking here.