“Have courage and be kind. For where there is kindness there is goodness, and where there is goodness there is magic.” This quote, taken from the childhood fairytale Cinderella, seems far-fetched, unlikely, and implausible. Yet at Hunkapi Programs, we work to rekindle “magic” on a daily basis.
Hunkapi Programs, Inc., is a therapeutic riding stable serving individuals with emotional, behavioral, psychiatric and developmental disorders. The majority of the program’s clients are on the Autism Spectrum, with increasing populations from situations of abuse, trauma, or addiction. The program uses equine-based therapies to connect and communicate with individuals from varying backgrounds, basing its methods in research.
Alex, a competitive tri-athlete suffered cardiac arrest crossing a race finishing line two years ago. Dead, revived, and in a coma for 3 months, today Alex struggles with anoxic brain injury. At the age of 30, he finds himself fully dependent on his parents.
Alex’s mother is tireless, yet exhausted. She’s stressed out, anxious about her son’s future. She feels isolated, alone, and judged by Alex’s appearance, and his behaviors, much like the parents of many of our other riders with diagnoses of Asperger’s, Autism, ADD/ADHD, OCD, Downs Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Depression, Anxiety Disorders, and much, much more. When Alex comes to Hunkapi, he is transferred to the top of a horse, where Alex is king of the world, in control, and able to clearly dictate his wishes and desires. On top of his horse, Alex is free.
Have courage. It takes courage to ask for help, to bring a child to therapy, to approach a thousand pound animal, and to put your life into the hands of strangers. It takes courage to delve back in time, and approach repressed memories. It takes courage for the child with Autism to attempt to communicate their needs and desires with those around them.
Be kind. We don’t always realize the effects that our words have on one-another, and aren’t always attuned to our own body language. With horses, that’s not an option. Horses have the innate ability to tell your story without words; fake it to make it is just not going to cut it. Horses move, communicate, and trust based on kindness, and expect the same of their riders.
For where there is kindness there is goodness, and where there is goodness there is magic. It’s the moment you see the grin of a hearing-impaired child realizing that they don’t need words to communicate- that their horse hears and comprehends their directives loud and clear. It’s the moment you give legs to the veteran who fought hard and gave up everything, allowing him to move with four legs instead of his own two. It’s the moment a blind individual is offered the chance to steer on his or her own. It’s the moment the nonverbal child utters their first sentence. It’s the moment the mother of the child begins to silently weep, as she sees her child, suffering of depression, choose to interact with the world once more. These are the moments we live for- the moments in which we are reminded that there is indeed just a little magic to be found in such a vast, busy world.
You see, at Hunkapi, we work to foster this “magic,” reveling and losing ourselves in the magic of the exceptional individuals we have the opportunity to spend time with. For it is these individuals who remind us daily of WHY there is magic in the world.
Please visit www.hunkapi.org to learn more about how you can support our programs and help us spread “magic.”