North Bay Lion’s Club recently donated $3,000 towards Equine Assisted Learning programs for teens on the autism spectrum with Paige Wilde at Take the Lead, in Callander. This is the second year Lions have helped the teens.
Paige Wilde, a local equestrian athlete turned Equine Assisted Life Skills Facilitator, is no stranger to pitching to the local Lion’s Clubs.
In the past, local clubs supported her bid for the 1992 Olympics, helping to give her a leg up on the International Equestrian stage. Now they are coming together again, this time in support of local teens with autism.
‘I saw a need in our community," said Wilde. "Our local child psychiatrist described it as a crisis. In 2015, I trained and certified to offer an equine program proven effective in other provinces and brought it home here to North Bay. Then, since most of the parents couldn’t afford to get their kids to the farm for programming, I made a pitch to the North Bay Lion’s Club once again, this time to help teens on the autism spectrum. They embraced it!"
This is the second year Lions have helped.
The first year, they contributed $1,295 - enough for one teen’s journey. Wilde matched it and PLAYS came up with the balance, effectively sending a group of 4 teens through a 14-week program that included all kinds of animal interactions on the farm. Sessions are custom designed to help with essential communication skills.
People on the Autism Spectrum often need to learn social cues, body language, self-control, empathy, compassion, and responsibility differently and working with horses and other animals on the farm provide innovative and effective ways to learn these things.
This year, Lions worked long and hard at the Bingo’s to come up with $3,000, enough for two teens and some safety gear/footwear.