There are stories out there of individuals having a dream and through that dream they find their purpose. A purpose so strong that with shear determination it manifests itself into a reality so beautiful it goes above and beyond the dream.
In 2008 Andrew and Sasha Camacho were graced with a daughter name Solana who was born with down syndrome. Like many children Solana became obsessed with something and that one thing was her love of horses. Like many parents they searched high and low for an equestrian program to fit her needs. However, on this journey they began to realize finding a local program that provided encouragement, consistent lessons, and inspiration was easier said than done. One night, Andrew dreamed that he and his wife built a program for all individuals with disabilities. The dream led to much research, fundraising, and volunteering that in 2016 it took shape and is called SoléAna Stables.
Partnering with Big Wish Farm in Alvin, Tx, SoléAna Stables is an accredited center with certified instructors and equine specialists on staff who provide individuals with a therapeutic equine riding program. The safe space program serves the community with compassion, uplifting inspiration, and above all else consistent selfless service. A location where families with a common bond can find support and acceptance.
The program offers riders lessons which benefit in ways such as improved concentration, patience, and coping skills. Additionally, riders in the program have been shown to benefit physically, emotionally, and socially. From improved confidence to self-esteem, balance and muscle tone, social skills with staff and others, riders have shown growth in many areas.
Serving riders aged 4 - 48, the therapy regiment is founded on PATH International training protocols to meet the individual’s needs by identifying and fulfilling specific areas. Utilizing the protocols, certified instructors create games and exercises with the riders learning style in mind so they are able to progress to the best of their ability in the program. The stable works to maximize the potential of each rider by re-evaluating them throughout the program so goals can be updated to meet their fullest potential.
The staff adaptive riding team at SoléAna Stables are also closely involved with the parents/caregivers, teachers, therapists, and school administrators to set appropriate goals for each child because each are unique. “Our instructors, along with the support of our skilled volunteers and equine, encourage riders to safely try new things and attain new goals,” says Sasha founder of the stables.
So, how can an adult with developmental disabilities in our area further learn or have a career with therapy involved? This was another conundrum that had someone dreaming. Meet Ann Henderson a woman who never owned a horse but saw a need in our community and dreamed a dream that became a reality as well.
Seeing there was a distinct lack of opportunities and continued support for individuals with disabilities and their respective families Ann and her husband Jack started their research. It was noted, the majority of young adults with autism are able to enroll in public school programs to receive an education until the age of 22 but after they reach this age that is it, off to the real world. Not to long after Jack retired, so he and Ann went on the hunt for the perfect property in Rosharon, Texas to start building. With lots of hard work and help from many in the community they did just that and created Rainbow of Hope in 2020.
The duo now has a ranch offering equine adaptive therapy to young adult individuals with developmental disabilities which helps them shape skills, develop confidence, and even possibly inspire their own dreams to pursue. Focusing on providing a routine relaxed farm work schedule with a peaceful environment the stable allows individuals to comfortably adapt to the program and enhance the ability of problem-solving, responsibility, and work-social skills.
Trained staff are there side by side to get hands dirty too in the daily jobs of the “crew.” Proper handling and care for the horses is part of onboarding for these career focused individuals. Upkeep of stalls, feedings, and other maintenance is part of farm life so safety is a huge concern since the therapy involves animals.
On Thursdays, the stable has Rainbow Day where students partake in activities designed by activity coordinator, Annette Owen to teach multiple job skills as well as life skills that may be of interest to possibly do in the future. Some skills participants can take part in are: puppy training, learning how to do canning of goods, making their own soaps and candles, and even have the opportunity to work on an ice cream truck. Also, a big part of Rainbow of Hope is teaching how to give back. The last Wednesday of every month, everyone heads to the St. Thomas food pantry to volunteer from 10 to 12.
As non-profits the organizations, SoleAna Stables and Rainbow of Hope are two amazing programs that are helping individuals with special needs and their families find proper learning environments, develop new skills, and meet goals in unique fun ways. If you or anyone you know would like to visit, volunteer, or donate with these unique programs, visit their websites at www.soleanastables.org and www.rainbowofhopetexas.org.