Cozumel residents and visitors are needed as volunteers to help with horse riding therapy at Rancho Universo. You don’t have to be an equine expert. Having a heart for helping special children, a willingness to volunteer even for a few hours and transportation to Rancho Universo is all that is required.
Laura, an island resident who volunteers at the ranch on an ongoing basis, feels it is therapuetic for her, too. “Liliana blesses me every week by letting me help. What joy, peace and calmness I get coming here. The horses are so loving; it just fills my heart.”
Rancho Universo is a local nonprofit effort that provides equine therapy for young children with various disabilities. The ranch also serves as a horse sanctuary for rescued horses.
Liliana Velasco-Ariza, equine therapy specialist, is passionate about her lifework helping children with disabilities experience the unique results horse riding therapy can provide such as strengthening and toning muscles, increased mobility, release of pain and other physical, psychological and emotional benefits. “It’s magnificent to watch and I try to help as many children as possible,” she said. Liliana would like more children to experience the therapy, but volunteers are needed as well as supplies that are not available on the island.
For each therapy session, three volunteers are needed to help stabilize the child and to lead the horse while Liliana instructs the child on positioning and movements.
Friends of Cozumel February 2011 mission volunteers coordinated arrangements with the CAM school to identify students with disabilities who can benefit from riding therapy, provided transportation to the ranch and volunteers to assist with therapy sessions. We hope this will become an ongoing effort to recruit and train volunteers.
For more information about Rancho Universo’s horse riding therapy and needs for volunteers and donations to support this effort click here.