Freedom Ride, is a non-profit organization and is the only Premier Accredited NARHA facility in the Central Florida area.
They provide therapeutic riding to adults and children four years and older with spina bifida, developmental disabilities, autism, down syndrome, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, brain injury, speech-language disorders, among others.
When Freedom Ride first opened its stables in 1998 there was one rider and one borrowed horse. Today, Freedom Ride has 16 horses, 200+ volunteers and provides therapeutic riding for over 100 local children and adults every week.
Starting in February Freedom Ride has been the topic of discussion for the local newspapers and news stations. There has been talk about the city of Orlando not renewing their lease in August and forcing them to find some place else to relocate to. Freedom ride is the only facility of its kind in central Florida and there are over 100 riders and parents that depend on freedom ride. Below are a few links that contain both articles and videos from local news channels. I have also included the link to the petition that has been started
Channel13 first article with video about them wanting to kick freedom right out.
Demographics Freedom Ride helps riders from age 5 all the way to adult. There are both male and female riders and they seem to be equal in attendance. The riders have many different disabilities that range from autism, down syndrome, to learning disabilities and others. I don’t know exactly how many people I personally helped by volunteering there I was only able to be a sidewalker a few times, but they say that taking care of the barn and horses is just as important and much needed. I was just there to help in anyway I could and my main goal was to get people aware of the situation the city was putting freedom ride in.
I have not always wanted to be a teacher and was very unsure if I would be good at it. It took me a very long time (5 changes) to pick this major, but now I couldn’t be happier with my choice!
I started horse back riding when I was 9 and actually did many horse shows out at the property where freedom ride is located back when it was much larger.
I feel a strong connection to wanting to save freedom ride because horse back riding quite honestly saved my life at one point
My mother died when I was 12 and after that my life did a downward spiral. I did nothing but eat, sleep, and ride. Many a times I ran away from home to stay at the stable. It was the only place I could be me.
I understand the feeling you get when you are on a horse, the connection between you and the animal, the unspoken friendship and both the physical and mental need for it.
6 years ago I donated my first horse Dixie to Stirrups and Strides out in Ocala. I had out grown Dixie and knew she deserved to go to a new home with great people to love and ride her.
My dad heard about Stirrups and Strides from one of my old riding instructors and contacted them to see what the program was about. A few weeks later they came and got her.
Dixie is still there and has many wonderful riders that take care of her. I have called a few times and they are always more then happy to give me and update on her.
Even though I know I'm more then welcome I have never gone to visit her or the facility out there. Saying goodbye the first time was hard enough, but its nice to know she's happy and even more so that she's making others as happy as she made me.
I learned about Freedom Ride from the discussion board on the Teacher in Action site. I contacted Jeannie Forthuher and spoke with her about how they needed help raising awareness about the program and how it was in danger of being closed.
After reading the news article and watching the video I made it a goal to do my part to get my family and friends and anyone else I could think of aware of this great organization.
I made signs and attended the protest at city hall on February 23 rd along with my best friend and step mom.
I had my family and friends go to the website to sign the petition to save freedom ride and my manager at work let me display a save freedom ride sign on our counter with the website also listed and directions on what to do.
When I was at the actual facility I usually arrived early in the morning to help with the daily barn chores. I helped wash buckets, clean stalls, throw hay for the horses and on occasion when a rider came I was able to help as a sidewalker.
I also helped take some of the pictures of the horses that are now displayed on their website. I made a goal to try and raise $150 to donate to the program and I’m unfortunately only at $80 right now, but I'm not giving up and will be very excited when I hit my goal and can make the donation.
My Coworkers! Marissa and I before the Protest. My step mom and best friend before the protest. My Dog Ziggy!
I learned a lot of useful information by taking this course and watching the weekly chats and reading through the material that was given. I have always felt and believed that my job as a teacher is to find a way to help each of my students learn to the best of their ability. I understand that whether it’s a person with a disability or not everyone learns differently and certain things will work for some that wont work for others. From actually doing this project I feel more comfortable and confident in working with people with disabilities. It wasn’t that I was afraid before, but more that I just didn’t know a lot about the different types of disabilities and how each affects a person. I’m in no means an expert now and I’m sure I still have a lot to learn. I was raised to accept and embrace peoples differences and after working with, and more so seeing other people who on a daily basis work with people with disabilities and talking with them it comes down to the fact that they just want to be treated with respect. They want to be given the opportunities to do things and be understood, they wants friends and to smile and be loved. They way they do things or have to have things done might be different, but they are still people all the same, who wants what we all want and that’s to be accepted.