Horsey House Calls lift the spirits of children during COVID-19 pandemic.
Farmington Hills, Michigan-based nonprofit Camp Casey is bringing a full-size horse to the doorsteps of immunocompromised children confined to their homes to ride for the afternoon. Traditionally, equine-assisted therapy has been proven to help the mental and emotional needs of patients. It encompasses a range of treatments that involve activities with horses and other equines, and it has been used to treat ADD, ADHD, autism, cerebral palsy, dementia, anxiety, depression, development delay and other health conditions. Molly Reeser, executive director at Camp Casey, explained of its Horsey House Calls, “Now, more than ever, our personalized, mobile programming is critical for the families we serve.”
Camp Casey will administer a modified, controlled and safe, Horsey House Call program throughout the summer by limiting personnel and guests present at one time, requiring face masks and frequent hand washing, eliminating food options, and increasing sanitation procedures.
“Camp Casey is one of the only local nonprofits able to offer our patients a safe alternative to the summer camps, trips and other in-person programming that they were looking forward to but have sadly been canceled,” said Wendi Henning, pediatric oncology social worker at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan. “It’s wonderful to report that a horse will be showing up at the homes of our pediatric cancer patients this summer.”
The camp was established in honor of a young girl named Casey Foote who battled bone and brain cancer and passed away just before she turned twelve. Counselors provide horseback riding programs to children with cancer and rare blood disorders. To be eligible for a Horsey House Call, a child must be under the age of 18 and have been diagnosed with or treated for a form of cancer, sickle cell disease, or aplastic anemia within the past two years. A horse grooming and safety lesson includes individual rides, team building games, and a craft project.
In 2016, The Hagerman Foundation gave $15,000 to the camp to expand its Horsey House Calls program in Genesee County, to which Molly Reeser of Camp Casey responded, “The Hagerman Foundation has come through with a $15,000 donation, which is gigantic for us. We’re a small, nonprofit, so that might as well have been a million dollars to us. This money is going to allow us to reach several families in Genesee County and beyond.”
Jocelyn Hagerman, CEO of The Hagerman Foundation, said, “It’s an honor to bring the healing power of horses to the doorsteps of sick children in Genesee County. As a horsewoman myself, I understand the therapeutic effects of horses so when I learned that Camp Casey needed assistance bringing this magical program to children in our community, it was easy for me to wrap my heart around this cause.”
Children who would benefit from a Horsey House Call, especially amid the social isolation of the pandemic, are nominated by loved ones via an application available on the camp’s site. The camp is also seeking to build up its volunteer base to serve as many families as possible.