Horses changing young lives at the Hope Rising Farm
Hope Rising Charitable Farm, based in Ngaruawahia, provides programmes aimed at youth from Ngaruawahia to Huntly.
Their programmes establish healthy connections between children and horses, they say.
There are a range of social challenges in NgaruawahiaHuntly for youth, which include alcohol, drugs, boredom, stealing, violence, truancy and tagging.
A gang culture exists in some pockets of this community, and poverty is a very real concern, with many children lacking the basic necessities of food and shelter. Youth in this area between the ages of eight and 13 often roam the streets, with a lack of organised activities for them to engage in. (Source: NgaruawahiaHuntly Collaborative Youth Strategy, June 2016)
Rachel Ralph, Founder and CEO says that Hope Rising Farm provides an empowering journey for children to develop many life skills.
“Our students are likely to leave school early, make poor choices about friends, lifestyle, health, free time and education and often have poor literacy skills.
“At Hope Rising Farm they learn to establish trust with the horses and confidence in themselves and others, and then realise that in changing themselves, they have the power to influence their world,” says Rachel.
A current programme, Time out with Horses, partners one or two children with a pony or donkey.
This is concentrated time for growth, learning, farm skill experience, confidence building, and hands-on experience.
Topics explored include: Trust, Communication, Life’s Challenges, Friendships and Responsibility, Peer Pressure and more.
Hope Rising Farm is currently fundraising to send three people to the UK in 2018 to train as instructors for a life-changing, unique programme developed especially for the specific emotional and mental needs of vulnerable children.
The programme has been running for about four years with some of the most disengaged, hard to reach and in some cases traumatised children in their care, resulting in significant changes.
“Our big vision is to run a specialised centre here and administer the NZ license for this exciting programme,” says Rachel.
International research confirms that these programmes have a positive impact.
“Youth who learnt horsemanship skills showed better decision-making, thinking, communicating, goal-setting and problem solving. Working with horses helped them develop positive values and life skills that are transferred to a young person’s daily life.” (Source: American Youth Horse Council).
Longer term goals for Hope Rising Farm include moving to a permanent home of at least 12ha and building a covered arena so that programmes can be run yearround.
“We have a big vision for Hope Rising Farm, and are excited about how our next stage of growth will impact and empower children that come to us,” says Rachel.
To partner with Hope Rising Farm, contact Rachel at hoperis[email protected], or www.facebook.com/Benjibon/ or visit their Givealittle page givealittle.co.nz/org/hoperising
One of the Hope Rising Farm students with Huey the friendly donkey.