I stumbled across the most astounding documentary on Channel 4 last night – Teen Horse Whisperers.
Impact is an alternative school in Bootle (Liverpool) for students with behavioural issues. It really is a ‘last chance’ for them. Some students work with Shy Lowen Horse and Pony Sanctuary to help students tackle their individual issues. The documentary followed the sanctuary owner as she worked with each teenager and helped them face their problems in the most gentle way while they worked to tame a group of wild horses.
It was amazing to see a boy with anger issues that had seen him thrown out of school stroking and talking to a pony he had tamed. I was choked as he was told the horse’s development was down to him – he had had the patience and calmness to support the horse – his anger had never surfaced. As the sanctuary owner told him this and praised him he had to walk away in tears, proud of the way he had developed.
Others dealt with a need to believe in themselves, a need to know they could put themselves first, issues around relationships with parents. Each time the sanctuary owner matched them with a horse who’s story, or reactions mirrored those of the young person. And as they developed the patience, resilience and strength needed to tame a wild horse so they began to grow and develop themselves.
An amazing story of an amazing project. The key things seemed to be;
- treating each person as an individual
- taking the young people out of their home environment to see a different side to life
- giving them time and space
Sadly the end included the now too familiar line ‘due to spending cuts this project is under threat’. Why does it feel as though everything that is in place to develop the child as a whole person; all the projects that fell under Every Child Matters; all the initiatives to support parents are the things being cut.
And how do we make sure that today’s children and young people don’t loose out too much. Its a question vexing me at present.