It’s a first; the Arion Therapeutic Farm needs students.
Since its opening three years ago, the therapeutic farm has found a property to operate from, a full fleet of horses, students to fill 100 riding spots and funds to offer vocational programs for everyone from kids to adults—a success story beyond most people’s wildest dreams.
Month over month, it’s meant an ongoing quest to find money to fund all of the ideas shaping up under the non-profit organization’s umbrella as it becomes a resource for those with a wide variety of cognitive and physical disabilities.
“My mission when I started this charity was that people would never start and stop. People need life-long support,” said founder Heather Henderson, in interview from the farm offices this week.
As such, the farm finds ways for people with and without government funding to take part in therapeutic rides. Adults with a wide range of disabilities have lived on the East Kelowna property, and continue to do so, while others get vocational training through work programs.
“I hate hearing people say: Oh Arion’s too expensive,” she said. “I always tell them, if you can’t afford it, come talk to me.”
That’s meant an endless search for scraps of funding and on-going brainstorming on ways to make the farm self-sustaining.
But Henderson now finds herself in an unusual position.
Rather than looking for funds for various programs this winter, she is looking for students. The farm has just received $25,000 and needs to find school-aged children to put the money to work.
“We’re not used to this,” said Henderson. “I’m always looking for volunteers. I’m always looking for money, but I’m never looking for clients to fill spaces.”
The $25,000 was awarded from The Tree of Hope, a Kelowna-based charity built around The Landmark Centre’s tree of lights which is set up each winter from January to November. The funds come from three of the centre’s major tenants—Disney’s Club Penguin, TD Bank and the Landmark Centre itself—and will be used for two programs, Club Arion and its after school version.
Club Arion After-School offers the kids who participate an opportunity to do a craft or cooking project and then some horseback riding; it is designed to target those with unique challenges. The farm offers a pick-up service from certain school locations and aims to help its clients improve concentration levels, learn compassion and trust, gain independence and develop new friendships.
For kids who are not in school during the day, the daytime Club Arion offers the same activities, though from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Club Arion After-School runs from 2:45 to 6 p.m.
Both programs begin Mar. 3, running through June 22.
The farm is still running several fundraising drives this year including a Raise the Roof campaign aimed at generating $100,000 to cover the main riding ring with a shelter.
These particular programs are also looking for additional funds to help cut the cost from $35 per student to $18, in line with the Boys’ and Girls’ Club costs, and a sponsor is needed for their new van, donated by The Spotted Spa Retreat.