Great news: Generation Z is as involved as ever, and the proof is here at Windrush Farm! We average over 150 teenage volunteers each year, and the numbers grow every session.
Many teen volunteers come to us through their school – either through a social action class or from a school list of non-profits/charities. We draw in those who already ride, who like to help with the horses. We have those with no horse experience who just want to try something new. And others have their own reasons for picking Windrush Farm: perhaps they have a family member with special needs, or they are planning on studying PT/OT in college.
What the most gratifying thing to see is how these volunteers grow and change with time.
Eric is a volunteer that came through a social action class at school. He had never worked around horses before, and hadn’t had much life experience with those with special needs. After training, he was placed into a class as a sidewalker. At first he was a bit tentative…I was curious to see how he would work out. However, with encouragement from the instructor, he became more confident as the session went on. He happily surprised me when he called to sign up to volunteer for the summer! It has been wonderful to see him mature and become more confident with the clients and the horses.
Sue and her sister Lynn came to us as horse-crazy girls. While they were comfortable around the horses, volunteering with our clients was a bit more daunting. But after finding new friends in our clients and other volunteers, they wouldn’t miss their classes for the world.
George’s experience working with special needs clients will certainly help him as he goes off to study pre-med in college. Same for Carrie, who wants to be an elementary school teacher, or Lisa, who is studying occupational therapy.
Don’t get me wrong — not everyone who comes to volunteer, stays to volunteer. We have our share of volunteers that would rather be doing something else. But really, those numbers are small and we are grateful for every minute we have of their help.
Our motto, “We are all more capable of more than we think” applies to everyone involved at Windrush. This next generation is a very capable bunch, and I’m pleased to see them happy to help others, and wanting to contribute to a positive supportive environment.