Changing Lives through Therapy

AmeriCorps Member Beth

Beth Cortelyou has changed lives during her time with Reins of Life in Michigan City.

The mom of two has worked with Reins of Life for three years and is currently completing an AmeriCorps term as the Special Programs Director. As Beth homeschools her daughters, she chose a 900-hour term, which will end in July. Through AmeriCorps, Beth has gained skills that she can share with her coworkers and her community, such as fundraising, first aid, financial literacy, and more.

Beth started volunteering at Reins of Life with her eldest daughter, who was learning American Sign Language at Purdue University Northwest. Her daughter wanted a way to utilize her new skills of ASL to benefit others, so Beth and both her daughters began volunteering at Reins of Life to work with children and adults who may not communicate verbally.

The Reins of Life Therapeutic Horseback Riding program hosts 20 special education classes once a week from various schools. A staff of four instructors teach students about horses from around the world. The classes are split into three groups, focusing on painting, grooming, and riding. The activities offered allow the students to grow in their social skills as well as balance and coordination.

All of these activities have life-changing impacts on the students and volunteers. Beth recalled a particular instance of a non-verbal girl who participated in riding therapy. Instead of issuing the horse verbal commands, the girl would simply tap the horse’s neck. After three years of riding therapy, Beth asked the girl a question and she responded softly.

Reins of Life is grateful for the support offered by the community as well as the many grants and funds provided that allow for continued programming and improvements to the facilities. Their fundraisers include the annual Kentucky Derby Celebration, as well as an event called “Race for the Kids” that involves voting for teams made up of a volunteer celebrity, Reins of Life rider, horse, side walker, and team manager. Reins of Life is proud to make an impact in the La Porte County community through the hard work of volunteers and employees such as Beth.

For more information on the United Way of Porter County-AmeriCorps partnership, contact Maddie Grimm, AmeriCorps director, at maddie@unitedwaypc.org or 219.464.3583, ext. 105.

To learn more about Reins of Life, Inc. Therapeutic Horseback Riding, visit their website.

Special thanks to Anna Bedalov, Jack Britten, Tony Elliot, and Alexander Purevich for this story.

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