Therapy Program Helping Students

By: Stephen Bowers Email
By: Stephen Bowers Email

MSU Meridian social work professor, Dr. Marian Swindell, is in the early stages of a new project.

At first glance, it appears to be just children riding horses, but the kids are special needs students at Northeast Middle School. The project is to find out whether therapeutic horseback riding can help them.

"The therapeutic part of it, for children who are unsteady in how they walk, we work on balance," said Swindell. "We work on paying attention to the lesson such as standing up in the stirrup, leaning forward and balancing. They have to work on a lot at the same time."

So far, so good. Northeast Middle School teacher Toni Jackson has already seen some changes in the classroom.

"The kids seem to have a lot more confidence in every new skill that we try," she said. "Not just the confidence to ride the horses, but everything in the classroom."

The students are riding every Wednesday in October. Some are even able to ride on their own.

Ricky Thaggard, who gives lessons in horseback riding, donated his time and horses for these kids. He has even seen some improvements in the last three weeks.

"Just their confidence, and they're getting to ride," Thaggard said. "What you see, how far you see them come that fast, they feel like King Kong when they leave here."

Dr. Swindell is using this time to get used to the program, but it is the beginning stages of research she is doing to show the significance of this therapy to help these children get federal financial help for it.

"We're already hearing from the children in this program that in the classroom they're doing different types of things that they had never tried before," said Swindell.

For more information, click on the link below to visit www.greatgaits.org.


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  • by Anonymous on Oct 28, 2009 at 04:57 AM
    Ask Marian Swindell, how she, uses people to make herself look good. She's a very dishonest person.
  • by Fuller on Oct 27, 2009 at 07:33 PM
    After watching the report about this wonderful program, I cannot believe that anyone would say such a terrible thing about Dr. Swindell. After checking on the status of this non profit and discovering from those involved that she has paid for all of this out of her own pocket to help these kids, I have to believe that Dr. Swindell is a very honorable and caring person. I have also discovered that she worked many hours during hurricane Katrina as a Red Cross volunteer helping with mental health services. Meridian is very fortunate to have a proffesor of such high quality and integrity giving so much of herself for our children and this community. You have our support Dr. Swindell and I will do what I can to help both financially and with moral support. I would trust you with my children with no reservations.
  • by Anonymous on Oct 26, 2009 at 04:09 PM
    Who can trust Marian Swindell. She's just trying to cover herself up!
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