Jim and Kathy Nova, of Nova Basement Systems in La Porte, Indiana, are no strangers to community service and charitable work. For years, they have been involved in the local Humane Societies, community schools, and the Red Cross here in northern Indiana. But recently, they have expanded their efforts internationally.
The Novas own a condo in Puerto Adventuras, Mexico. This small town is located about sixty miles south of Cancun in the Mexican Carribean / Yucatan Penninsula. The Novas have donated thier time in helping a local school and the town with holiday events and donations to the library. Recently, they have become involved in an innovative program which utilizes horse-back riding as a form of therapy. There are many of these new programs (Reins of Life, for example) which treat clients from four to twenty years of age who suffer from difficulties such as Cerebral Palsy, Autism, or even different levels of paralysis. The goal is to train each rider to become as skilled on horseback as possible, which helps with balance, a major issue for most of these clients. In addition, the therapists create games to improve motor and sensory skills along with socialization. Volunteers, such as the Novas, lead the horses and help balance and support the riders.
Aside from the active learning the therapists impart, there is a powerful passive benefit that cannot be quantified. The connection formed over time between the clients and horses is one that any pet lover will understand. The motion and warmth of the animals has a noted affect. Firsthand, the Novas have seen astonishing improvements in balance, healing, and social skills.
The stable in Mexico is located in a remote area south of the town of Playa del Carmen. There is no electricity, and they are deep in the jungle, dealing with temperatures in excess of 100 degrees, no breeze to speak of, high humidity, mosquitoes, flies, and even bats. But Jim and Kathy Nova will tell you that the joy on the faces of those clients makes it all worthwhile. Says Jim, "You walk away from a session and realize you really don't have any real problems of your own."
Therapeutic horseback riding is a growing way people in many communities are helping those with disabilities and improving their connections with society. You can find more information about a local program, called Reins of Life. Check out their website at www.reinsoflife.org.