Morrow, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – An area non-profit is helping troubled teens through the use of horses.
Three teens, Justin, Jacob and Bryce, race their horses on Thursday afternoon. But it is much more than just having fun.
“We reach out to boys who have drug and alcohol problems, delinquency issues, behavioral problems,” Darren Reynolds, Executive Director for the Teen Challenge Adventure Ranch said.
For these teens, riding is therapy.
“Horses reflect emotion. If a boy is angry and he goes out to work with a horse, then a horse becomes stubborn,” Reynolds said.
The equine therapy program at the Teen Challenge Adventure Ranch is helping boys identify emotions and better understand others.
“These kids often have relationship difficulties with people that carry very much about them. Teachers or people in the community. This helps them to be sensitive to what’s going on in other people,” Reynolds said.
For Justin, Jacob and Bryce, it is working wonders.
“They have different moods on different days, the same as us. It’s just realizing how to deal with that,” 17-year-old Jacob said.
He is talking about his horse, but the lesson applies to any relationship.
“The horses have their good and bad days and that’s really with my peers around me. Some of them can have a great day at Teen Challenge and you never know when they’re going to have a bad day. You kinda have to prepare for that,” Bryce said.
“It’s just good to build a relationship non-verbally. It’s just interesting and I love it,” Justin said.
Equine therapy is just one of many programs at the ranch.
“Teen Challenge is first and foremost a Christian ministry and we started in 1973 right here in Morrow, Arkansas. And we started simply as a boys home,” Reynolds said.
Now it has developed into housing, education, therapy and activities for up to 36 teens at a time.
“It doesn’t just affect one kid. It affects families and it affects generations of families,” Reynolds said.
It is helping the kids cope with trauma and recover from drug and alcohol abuse.
“We love them. We guide them to help them transform to get past those traumas to be able to live a full life,” Reynolds said.
The ranch, like many others, has been hurt by The Coronavirus outbreak. It had a fundraising banquet scheduled for April that has been pushed back to August. The goal was to raise some much-needed funds to upgrade the campus. To help it out., click here.