Native Village  Youth and Education news
February 2010 Volume 2

Visalia Native American students receive academic support with help from horses
BY MARIA G. ORTIZ-BRIONES
http://t.love.com/288742134
Condensed by Native Village

California: The Horse and Reader program in Visalia targets Native American students in grades 4-7 who are struggling in school.

The program is a joint venture of J-Bar Ranch Center for Experiential Learning and the Owens Valley Career Development Center.

 “We do a lot of reading about horses,” said Jan Butler Loveless, founder of J-Bar Ranch. “We want to improve academic performance.”

 12 students are divided into groups of four and work in three “centers.” One involves horse handling and  management; another involves literacy; the third often involves Native American culture.

“I love the program,” said Meghan, whose favorite part is handling and riding the horses. “They [the horses] are kind and sweet and easy to handle.”

Along with her sister, Chasy, the sixth-graders come to the J-Bar Ranch center on Monday and Wednesday and two Saturdays per month.  It has helped them both academically and socially, said their mother, Rose Marie Whitendale.

“It’s bringing up their self-esteem so much,” she said. “I have seen them blossom up. They are more outgoing.”

J-Bar Ranch also uses horses for psychotherapy. While some classes are for adults, most involve academically challenged or at-risk children.

Tracy Easter from Owens Valley Career Development Center has seen much improvement among the students.  When Horse and Reader began, students were below the basic levels in language-arts skills. That’s no longer the case.

“We want kids to stay in school,” Loveless said.

J-Bar Ranch recently received the Innovative Program Award from Tulare County Child Abuse Prevention Council.

 

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