Naples Therapeutic Riding Center (NTRC), a non-profit organization providing therapeutic horseback riding and other equine-facilitated group services to children and adults with physical, social and mental health needs, invites the media to an upcoming session of Operation Strides on January 24, 2020 at 5:00 pm.
NTRC recently expanded Operation Strides, a tailored equine-facilitated program for veterans, military service men and women and their families. The program includes veteran-only sessions as well as family sessions that conclude with time for food, refreshments and camaraderie among fellow veterans and military families.
Operation Strides is a special program devoted solely to the unique needs of veterans and military families by promoting reintegration and skills development. The horsemanship workshops aim to empower veterans and encourage them to fully leverage the talents developed during their service as they transition back to civilian life and the workforce.
VISUALS, PHOTO AND INTERVIEW OPPORTUNITIES?
• Missy Lamont, Naples Therapeutic Riding Center Executive Director
• Rick Sjolander, Army Veteran and Operation Strides Program participant
• Karen Sjolander, Military Spouse and Operation Strides Program participant
• Lea Haven, Naples Therapeutic Riding Center PATH Certified Equine Specialist and Operation Strides program instructor
5:00 pm Friday, January 24, 2020
5:00 – 5:30 pm – Interviews
5:30 – 7:00 pm – Operation Strides Group Session (b-roll/photo opportunities of veterans and family participants interacting with horses)
7:00 - 7:30 pm – Food and Refreshments provided by American Gold Star Mothers of Southwest Florida
Naples Therapeutic Riding Center
206 Ridge Drive
Naples, FL 34108
David McKenzie NTRC Program Director and a 20-year veteran of the United States Army, said, “We are excited to expand our proven equine groups to support the unique needs of the local veteran population. Our goal with Operation Strides is to de-stigmatize veterans participating in therapeutic services and encourage more veterans to connect to an array of needed mental health options in an environment that is welcoming, social and therapeutic.”
During the sessions, participants work directly with horses while engaging in a group process to overcome obstacles. Operation Strides’ ground-based exercises are interactive and challenging. Veterans and their family members work with NTRC’s certified equine specialists and therapy horses to improve mood, communication and wellbeing by being guided through a series of specially designed activities. The exercises provide opportunities to strengthen the bond among unified families, improve self-confidence, develop skills and provide an opportunity to build a social network among fellow veterans.
“Operation Strides has been very helpful because it helps you work through challenges and gives you down time,” said Army Veteran Rick Sjolander and Operation Strides program participant. “It takes your mind off the stress of a day to do something with an animal. The horse absorbs your stress and relaxes you. I always feel better when I leave.”
The program is free of charge and funding is provided through donations and grants.