WCF Provides $18,000 For 90 WHS Students To Attend Vinceremos Programs

Wellington Community Foundation board members present a check to Village Manager Jim Barnes. (L-R) Maggie Zeller, Mickey Smith, Jim Sackett, Village Manager Jim Barnes, Tom Wenham, Barry Manning, Maria Becker, Dr. Gordon Johnson and James Seder.

The Wellington Community Foundation has once again teamed up with the Village of Wellington to offer 90 Wellington High School students with disabilities the opportunity to participate in the Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center’s program. The program offers therapeutic riding, hippotherapy and equine-assisted learning.

“Thanks to our generous donors, we have the ability to offer students this opportunity. It is directly within our mission statement and what our foundation is dedicated to,” WCF Chair Tom Wenham said. “Our foundation is committed to benefiting seniors, children and veterans by supporting and improving their quality of life. That is exactly what this donation will do — afford an opportunity that can greatly impact these students’ lives.”

Vinceremos, located in Loxahatchee Groves, is a premier center accredited by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) and has been serving individuals with disabilities for more than 35 years.

The benefits of therapeutic riding include improved balance and core strength, refined motor skills and most of all, fun. The lessons provide social interaction and camaraderie while riders learn equestrian skills, build self-confidence and independence.

“We greatly appreciate the support of the Wellington Community Foundation in providing the funding to restart the program with Wellington High School, and there is even talk of adding another school,” Vinceremos Chief Operating Officer Susan Guinan said. “This year has been very challenging for all of us, but those with disabilities are often isolated in the best of times, then add a pandemic.”

While the Vinceremos team has been able to serve individual clients during the pandemic, instituting protocols as recommended by the CDC, they are looking ahead to providing more regular services and working with more clients.

“Our school groups haven’t been able to resume due to the close quarters in transporting them to the farm in a bus, but it looks like these restrictions will be lifted,” Guinan said. “Most of our school students are over the age of 12, and they are eligible for vaccinations. So, we are looking forward to having Wellington High School back at the farm.”

The equine-assisted learning program at Vinceremos gives students, teachers and staff a shared experience to use as a basis for discussion and self-development. Students learn social and life skills, practice safety, follow routines and complete tasks.

“Mastering tasks and routines while building confidence is a path to independence for these students and a stronger Wellington community. This is only possible thanks to the funding provided by the Wellington Community Foundation. We are grateful for the support of Wellington Village Manager Jim Barnes and Tom Wehnam,” Guinan said. “People may look at us and see a horse farm, but Vinceremos is a classroom, and the horses are the teachers, building a strong foundation for the future, regardless of a disability.”

The foundation’s board of directors voted unanimously to fund the project, and during a meeting on May 7, presented a check for $18,000 to Barnes.

Barnes said that the village is pleased by the foundation’s continued support for its Vinceremos program with Wellington High School.

“The program provides an opportunity for the students to experience the therapeutic benefits of equestrian activities, which result in remarkable gains for the students in the classroom and at home,” Barnes said. “We look forward to being able to resume the program in the fall, when the students will all hopefully be able to experience in-person learning once again.”

At the meeting, Barnes also shared updates regarding the return to school in 2021-22 and how this program will be reinstated. The board went on to thank Barnes for the update and for championing the program for Wellington students.

For more information about the Wellington Community Foundation, or how to get involved, visit www.wellingtoncommunityfoundation.org or call (561) 333-9843.

To learn more about the Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center and its programs, visit www.vinceremos.org or call (561) 792-9900.