Students with special needs get new therapy with horses

Hopes Promise in Chester provides equine therapy for students with special needs.

Hopes Promise in Chester provides equine therapy for students with special needs. (5/20/15)

CHESTER - Students with special needs from Plainfield took part in a new type of teaching program Wednesday by visiting a horse farm in Morris County.

Hope's Promise in Chester provides an equine therapy program for the students. Students get to participate in activities they normally wouldn't be a part of.

"A lot of them are very fearful of something new, so they are trying something new and taking risks," says Laurie Thurston, a speech language pathologist at Plainfield High School. "It makes them excited. They talk more, we find."

Thurston says that being out of their element helps the students develop new communication skills, such as talking to adults they don't know.

This is the third year that Plainfield High School has visited Hope's Promise. The therapy program is run by Maureen Coultas. Coultas says that she started the program because horses helped her get through a rough time in her life.

"I really did start this because of my childhood," she says. "I have post-traumatic stress. I had abuse for 20 years and I didn't feel empowered at all."

Hope's Promise runs a variety of different therapeutic riding programs and other activities. More information about the program can be found at the farm's website.

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