The PACE Center for Girls Volusia – Flagler volunteered at Whispering Meadows Ranch in Flagler Beach to help local foster children experience a summer camp.
Local foster children saddled up at Whispering Meadows Ranch as part of a summer camp funded by Florida's 7th Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Foundation (GAL7).
For three weeks in June, different groups of eight foster kids visited the ranch in Flagler Beach to learn responsibility, build confidence and grow friendships. The PACE Center for Girls Volusia – Flagler, located in Ormond Beach, joined in the effort by volunteering to work hands-on with the foster children for arts and crafts activities and outdoor games at the ranch.
The “Fostering Friendships” program is in its first official year at the ranch after a trial run last summer. It allows the PACE girls to teach responsibility and teamwork to the foster children, said Kristine Aguirre, Whispering Meadows Ranch programs director and riding instructor.
As a previous long-time volunteer with Guardian ad Litem, Aguirre felt inspired to mesh these nonprofits together.
“I let go of the volunteering, but my heart’s always been drawn to working with foster kids,” Aguirre said.
During the school year, the horses at Whispering Meadows Ranch are used for physical and emotional therapy for special needs participants, but this is the first summer where foster children benefited from the horse interactions.
“Putting the kids up there on such a large animal gives them a lot of responsibility,” Aguirre said. “They can control their horse with a simple turning of the reins; that’s very empowering.”
Beyond the therapy methods on horseback, the foster children learn how to take care of a horse and are able to bond with others their age at the camp. Some of the children even exchanged numbers during last week’s camp to stay in touch after, Aguirre said.
Aguirre commends these nonprofit organizations for working together to meet the same goal of being advocates and support systems for local children.
The camp will continue for one more week at the end of July. For more information about Whispering Meadows Ranch, visit whisperingmeadowsranch.org.