HomeMedford NewsTeacher directs horse therapy program, wins humanitarian award

Teacher directs horse therapy program, wins humanitarian award

Kidd, Chance and Teddy Bear roam through the fields at their home on a Medford horse farm, embark in fun exercises with youngsters atop their saddles and otherwise enjoy their retirements.

Whether they know it or not, these three animals and some of their fellow horse buddies are part of something much bigger.

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They are helping the lives of special-needs children.

Kelly Adams and Kimberly Pohubka founded the Kaleidoscope Therapeutic Riding Program in 2009 to provide equine therapy to area children.

“The movement of the horse is physical therapy for the kids,” said Adams, who is the program director for the farm. “We do different things so that it’s some fine motor, some gross motor and some planning ahead. We try to tie in as many different aspects of learning and cognition as possible while making it fun.”

The instructors will play games such as tic-tac-toe or red light-green light while still working on the goals for the child. There is even a basketball net on site.

“We do all different games with them,” she said.

For a student working on speech goals and learning the “W” sound, Adams said they would say a phrase such as “walk on,” but enunciate the “wa” part of the word.

“The lessons may be the same throughout the day, but different parts are stressed for each student a little bit more, depending on whatever their goals are,” she explained.

Many of her therapy students are in other programs as well, whether for speech or vision or other disabilities, and she wants the horse program to be fun while rewarding for them.

When parents come in with the children to register for the classes, Adams asks of their needs.

“What are your huge goals, and then we’ll figure out how we can make it really fun,” she said. “It’s a good time.”

The way the barn is set up, parents are able to sit and watch the lessons from another room.

The therapy program moved to the Medford location in April. They used to be in Mt. Laurel.

Karen Byrne, a Medford resident and parent of avid sixth-grade volunteer Malaree, is at the farm on a weekly basis.

“It’s amazing what they do with the children,” she said. “I can’t say enough about the program.”

After she sat through a class and saw the activities and the benefits, Byrne said she was “blown away.”

Adams is also Malaree’s teacher at the Haines Sixth Grade Center in Medford.

Recently, Adams was recognized for her efforts inside and outside of the classroom with the Sy Kantrowitz Humanitarian Award.

According to an email sent by Medford Education Association’s president Gail Weisberg, Adams is a foster parent for dogs through Recycled Love, and facilitator for “AIT for You,” which is a nationwide auditory integration-training program that uses music therapy to help special-education students.

She has also volunteered on Jennings Farm, a farm that boards horses while also being a cattle and chicken farm.

“I grew up across the street from the farm. My grandmother lives in the house right here, my parents live down the street,” she said. “On the weekends, (I was) always with the horses. Both of my parents grew up on horse farms so as far as I’m concerned, I never had a choice.”

She currently teaches lessons two days a week after school.

“It’s really fun for me to come here after school,” she said. “My role here is more significantly with the therapy, but I do teach typical lessons also.”

Everyone at her day job knows her for her love of the horses and children, she said.

This year, she teaches students with multiple disabilities in a small class setting. She teaches them life skills rather than curriculum.

In the past, she’s taught inclusion and a small group class.

“This will be my year to get tenure,” she said.

She wasn’t always aware of her love for special needs children.

It wasn’t until she took a class her junior year of college that her eyes were opened, she said.

“This is interesting. This is fun. You can be really creative,” she said.

Adams is grateful and honored to have received the humanitarian award this year.

“I didn’t see it coming,” she said. “This is just what I do. I enjoy it.”

Learn more about the Kaleidoscope Therapeutic Riding Program by visiting kaleidoscopetr.webs.com. The farm is located on 21 Branin Road in Medford.

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