The eighth grade students of the East Woods School recently participated in a brand new Leadership Program established by Head of School, Laura Kang. As part of the program, students met and heard from the executive directors of seven non-profits in the fall. After learning about the mission, programs, financial structure and goals of each program, they had the difficult task of choosing one to support with their year-long project. The students chose to help and support Pal-O-Mine located in Islandia, NY.
Pal-O-Mine is a non-profit organization whose goal is to provide a comprehensive therapeutic equine program using horses to aid growth, learning, and healing. Individuals that utilize this organization consist of children and adults with disabilities, those who have been abused or neglected, the military and the economically compromised. Pal-O-Mine’s programs include adaptive riding and unmounted horsemanship, equine assisted learning, equine assisted psychotherapy, hippotherapy, military programs, and corporate workshops.
“Students gain many skills in the leadership programs we have here at Pal-O-Mine,” said Lisa Gatti, CEO and Founder of Pal-O-Mine. “From the time they walk onto the property, students remain respectful to themselves, their peers, their staff, our staff/volunteers and all of the animals. They are asked to hand in any electronics they may have in order to strengthen peer relationships and get the most out of the time they spend with the animals and each other.”
Some of the tasks that the East Woods students completed at the facility included mucking paddocks for the horses, disposing of heavy manure filled wheelbarrows, raking, brushing and shedding out the miniature horses. While taking on the responsibility of exercising the donkeys, students also walked the donkeys over to Pal-O-Mine’s separate property and visited participants of J-STEP, an adult vocational program provided by the organization. Other responsibilities included bathing, brushing and walking the horses.
The East Woods students donated supplies such as gloves, tape, leather cleaner, towels and a wheelbarrow and spent 26 volunteer hours of work and labor onsite. At the completion of the program, the students traveled back to Pal-O-Mine to deliver almost $2,000 worth of cash, gift cards and wish list items to Lisa Gatti, CEO and Founder of Pal-O-Mine.
Photo 1: Student Michael Byrne doing his part of cleaning up the facility by disposing of the contents of a heavy manure-filled wheelbarrow.
Photo 2: Student Drew Trinagel shows his love for the animals at Pal-O-Mine while caring for one of the miniature horses.
Photo 3: (From left to right) Students Joseph McCartan, Jack Ceriello, Daniel Gambella, Christopher Dolan, Nicholas DiStefano, Peter Cheng, Jared Hemley, Michael Byrne, George Mercier, Xin Hu, Drew Trinagel, Elodie Saliou and a Pal-O-Mine staff member.