Several times a week, three children with special needs from the Lighthouse School are mounted on gentle horses at the Equestrian Centre on Linford Pierson Highway for therapeutic riding sessions, or equine therapy.
During equine therapy the body of the child moves in a way that is similar to a human walking; the horse moves rhythmically up and down; side to side; and back and forth in repetitive patterns. This movement improves the rider’s balance, muscle tone, and head and neck control. The children with autism are responding well to the therapy and enjoying time with their new four-legged friends.
“It calms them, helps them to follow direction, helps their posture and it builds their self-confidence,” said Olga Gourzong, deputy principal of the Lighthouse School.
The kids are receiving this therapy through sponsorships by the Red Sail Group, affiliated companies under one umbrella. They include Red Sail Sports, The Rum Point Restaurant, Tortuga Divers, Caymed Plus, BBP Insurance, La Mer Spa and The Shops of Red Sail. Red Sail Sports has long been an advocate and supporter of the Lighthouse School, but Operations Manager Rod McDowall says as a group they can do more to help.
Olga Gourzong says that at $25 per student per riding session, the school cannot afford to pay for long-term horse therapy. If Red Sail had not stepped in to help, the children with autism would have had to do without this therapy from October through December.
“Red Sail is always a phone call away and they rescue us whenever all other doors are closed,” she said.
“The owners of the Red Sail Group of companies are happy we are in a position to make a small difference in the lives of these children,” said Mr. McDowall. The Group is also sponsoring daily meals for Lighthouse students whose families are unable to pay because of economic or social family issues.
Red Sail also sponsors students on overseas trips, donates uniforms and prizes, sponsors school lunches and snacks, donates funds to help buy school supplies, advocates for the Lighthouse School in the community and often acts as the school’s voice.
This type of assistance from the business community is vital for the school, said Ms Gourzong. Ideally she would like see other companies step up to help and follow the Red Sail Group’s example.
“This kind of support is important for the Lighthouse School because providing children with special needs with the different therapies and services is very costly, so community based organisations are a big help to us,” she said. “Most of our students are from families who are from very low socio economic backgrounds, so getting support from companies like the Red Sail Group improves our students quality of life immensely.”
“The decision to form the Red Sail Group was to combine our ability to more effectively promote each company every time we sponsored or donated to the community,” said Rod McDowall. “Also we believe we can make a more significant and impactful contribution to local community charities we select, be they the Special Olympics, the Lighthouse School, education programmes, youth sports or other causes.”