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Lakeland School Board Approves Equine Therapy Program


MINOCQUA – A formal contract authorizing an extra curricular activity centered on equine assisted therapy for students with intellectual and developmental challenges was approved Monday by the Lakeland Union High School board of education.

This is the fourth year the program has been offered; but only the first time a contract is being signed between the district and School Community Impact Group (SCIG), a not-for-profit organization located in Winchester that provides those services.

Individuals with social and mental limitations oftentimes respond favorably to personal contact with horses, according to SCIG owner Lenelle Scholl. They can gain confidence, develop communication and social skills and learn responsibility. Each student gets his or her own lesson plan with goals. Each weekly session will involve a half-dozen students, with transportation provided by the district. The district will pay $45 per student. School staff will help supervise LUHS students while on SCIG premises. “Students participate in the equine therapy program during the school year,” said Director of Special Education Stephanie Lewis to follow-up questions. The one-year contract goes through the summer of 2020.

“The only time the school would have any involvement in equine therapy over the course of the summer is if the student’s IEP (individual education plan) indicates that there is a need for an extended school year that requires equine therapy,” she explained. “We have never had such a situation. If a student did have an IEP that indicated the need for an extended school year that included equine therapy, then, yes, the school's insurance would cover it since it is a school/IEP driven activity.”

Board member Jon Berg sought assurances that students will be provided helmets and proper footwear. Scholl said helmets are always required, and boots are offered if the student wishes to wear them.

The motion to approve by Gary Smith includes a requirement that the district’s insurance protects the district in case of an injury or other mishap while a student or staff member is taking part in the outing. The equine therapy sessions would be like any other field trip that a department undertakes, it was noted.

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