At the Farm
*Buena Vista School District Programs
Mini Blessings' involvement with the Buena Vista schools began 2012 with the Chaffee County High School (CCHS), an alternative school that for the last twenty years has been labeled an At-Risk Education Campus by the Department of Education. Students could complete the community service hours required for graduation by volunteering at Mini Blessings. They helped with chores, grooming, feeding and exercising the horses.
The Buena Vista elementary school principal had also identified a need at the elementary level for extra social/emotional and behavioral support. The schools piloted a mentoring program with twelve identified at-risk 4th graders. They spent one hour a week at Mini-Blessings in a working environment where they must control their emotions and regulate their behaviors so they can work successfully with the mini-horses. Lessons included horse care - feeding, grooming, exercise, horse anatomy, and basic horsemanship skills. Students progressed to leading the horses through the agility course in the arena and exercising them on the trail.
The middle school Counselor identified 2 especially difficult at-risk students who they thought might benefit from working with Mini Blessings. They spent an hour a day three times a week working with the horses and doing chores.
This partnership with the schools has been very successful, nearly tripling enrollment since it's inception and is currently serving twenty-eight 4th and 5th grade at-risk and special needs students. Seven students have enrolled in the voluntary after school session for 6th and 7th graders who have been in the program and want to continue their involvement. A total of 19 students have participated in the after school program.
Additional collaborations with the schools include: In the fall of 2015 the CCHS science teacher held class at Mini Blessing for a week, using the horses and the ranch environment as the subject matter. The Discovery Program, where the newly enrolled CCHS students explore what might be an appropriate learning environment for them, holds sessions at Mini Blessings.
Over the last four years, Mini-Blessings has had the privilege of touching the lives of over 150 students from the Buena Vista Schools.
In 2014 a summer program was started in conjunction with Boys and Girls club and 10 children attended for a seven week program of volunteering and equine assisted activities.
*Equine Assisted Activities
This includes grooming, exercising, and spending time getting to truly know and understand the horse. Working with the minis is a great way to learn about horses, feel their healing power, and find a special inner peace. Participation in this program is generally required before participating in cart driving or riding.
A great way to develop motor skills, eye-hand coordination, and self-confidence.
*Community Service Projects
Volunteer groups such as Boy and Girl Scouts, Boys and Girls Club, etc are always needed for special projects such as trail construction and maintenance.
Mini-Blessings Farm provides great opportunities for youth to work with their hands, use their minds and work with horses while meeting court ordered community service requirements.