Every McNicholas student is required to complete 40 community service hours before graduation and for some students, their service becomes greater than just meeting the requirement. Senior Cassidy Deimling and sophomore Francy Shumrick use their hobby of horseback riding to help others.
Deimling volunteers with the Starfire Council of Greater Cincinnati through her 4H Club. Starfire’s goal is to connect disabled people, such as those with Down syndrome, with different opportunities and experiences. Deimling has volunteered with Starfire for six years and has been involved with their horse outings, where the Starfire participants can come and learn about the horses. In addition to volunteering with Starfire, Deimling does all types of riding; including English, Western, and barrel racing. She also competes in horse competitions at the Clermont County Fair.
At Starfire, volunteers teach the kids how to walk the horses and lead them through patterns. The kids can not actually ride the horses because of insurance issues. After this, the 4-H members ride the horses to show the Starfire participants what riding is about.
“It has been a great experience to see how happy [the children] get when they are around the horses,” Deimling said. “Most of the time they show up a little shy and scared of the horses but throughout the outing, you can see a change in their attitude and they become more confident around the horses.”
Shumrick volunteers at Cincinnati Therapeutic Riding and Horsemanship (CTRH), a place where adults and children with different disabilities , such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and multiple sclerosis, come to ride horses or receive ground lessons. They offer different programs, and the horseback riding helps the participants with coordination, strength, and walking. Shumrick said her job is to walk next to the children on the horse and help them to stay balanced while encouraging them as they work on their exercises. Shumrick has been riding since she was in third grade and is also involved with an Interscholastic Riding team.
“I like volunteering there because I can help people while being around horses, and I get to see the bond the kids and the horses form,” Shumrick said.
CTRH has many different programs that all involve horses. Volunteers must be at least 14 and fill out forms. Then they attend a training session. Starfire has a variety of programs in addition to the ones that involve horses. According to their website a person can get involved by completing a form and then scheduling a volunteer orientation. To get more information about these organizations, visit their websites: http://www.starfirecouncil.org/volunteer.html and http://www.ctrh-online.org/home/volunteer.html