NESTLED in the quaint countryside of Nowendoc lies an organisation dedicated to improving the lives of troubled youths.
Hope Hill helps young people between the age of five and 18 find healing through working with horses.
Manager Christie Watts said horses have allowed these kids to make the necessary positive changes needed in their lives.
“We offer a safe environment in which the kids who are either bullies, have been bullied, or who are disengaged with school, or have suffered from some sort of trauma, spend time with horses in a peaceful and relaxed atmosphere,” Ms Watts said.
“We have found the kids feel comfortable with the horses.
“Children don’t always respond to forms of counselling, but here they know the horse doesn’t judge them and accepts them as they are, so they usually let their guard down.”
Founded by Sue Pickles two years ago, the not-for-profit organisation has helped many children achieve their dreams and hopes of leading a better life.
And while it is an avenue for children, Ms Watts said under certain circumstances, those above 18 could also be accepted.
“If there’s someone over 18 years old who’s struggling, we don’t mind helping them out. We have a girl starting next week who is 27 who has special needs,” she said.
“These sorts of programs really help kids. It develops their confidence which builds up their self-esteem and self-worth.
“We have had several success stories – for example, one young girl who had been sexually abused, has since taken the steps to change her life and get through that abuse.”
Kids who visit Hope Hill will spend time during a school term with
a four-legged companion, either on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis.
They will learn how to ride, groom and feed a horse and will generally keep the same horse to help them develop a relationship with the animal.
Other on-farm work projects are also conducted – picking up horse manure, gardening and odd jobs. Kids also get the chance to make arts and craft.
“We encourage the kids to come out weekly during the term. We assess each child at the end of the term and if we feel they need more assistance, we encourage them to stay on for the following term,” Ms Watts said.
“Being privately funded helps us give these kids the opportunity for a better life at no cost to them or their families.
“These sort of programs not only help kids develop their confidence, but it also gives them leadership and communication skills – all while having fun.”