July 23, 3023
Once a year, a group comes together to attend TACO, the Therapeutic Adventure Camp of Orange.
“For some of these kids, this is the only sport they get to play,” said Jessica Harlow, TACO Committee Chair.
The program is a horse camp geared towards kids and teens with mental and physical disabilities.
“We have one camper who is bound to a wheelchair and this is the only time he gets to move without the assistance of the wheel chair,” said Harlow.
With a little help, the camper is up on the horse and able to ride.
“It is the most rewarding, heart-melting thing you can ever see, it really is. When he smiles and laughs and gets up there, it's the best thing you could ever see as a volunteer, a parent, someone who's put blood sweat tears into this program. It's the most rewarding piece of it,” said Harlow.
Not only is horseback riding enjoyable for the kids, staff members say it actually helps their muscles as well.
“They teach you how to do trotting, stepping over the poles and stuff,” said Jessica Fletcher, camper.
“It helps to work muscles they may not work on a daily basis. They do stretches reaching to the horse’s ears to their tail. They get a sense of steering, hand eye coordination, and balance; everything that we take for granted” said Harlow.
Organizers say all the opportunities are made possible by a group of heroes, the camp’s many volunteers.
In addition to riding, volunteers also are using finger paint to teach campers about horses and how to identify certain body parts.
Campers say coming to TACO is also a chance to make some new friends.
Staff members say they’re excited to be a part of the experience and give this group the same opportunities as other kids their age.