Stonewall Scarlett & Stefanie
Accomplishments: (Testimonials) Therapeutic Driving offers even profoundly disabled people the opportunity to enjoy outdoor recreation while achieving positive functional outcomes in an environment that is safe, supportive, exciting and fun. The experience is powerful and life-altering.
Stefanie came to Access Adventure after suffering a terrible accident that left her quadriplegic. This beautiful young woman was an accomplished equestrian who deeply missed her connection to horses and life outdoors. The innovative techniques of Access Adventure brought Stefanie aboard our carriages in her wheelchair and allowed her to learn to drive horses, despite her profound disabilities. Michael gently guided her away from getting back in the saddle and encouraged her to learn to drive horses. Under his care she began competing in Combined Driving, enjoying an exciting life. She has never looked back and is now setting her sights on trying to qualify for the US Team for the World ParaEquestrian Games.
In her own words: “I cannot express how much I cherish and appreciate the help that everyone and of course Michael gave to me. Access Adventure and Michael offered me the incredible reconnection with horses which I so desperately needed in my life. This reconnection with such an important, life-sustaining part of my former world – horses, enabled me to begin moving forward with my life after this horrendous injury. I just needed horses in my life again and carriage driving has given that back to me. After I was injured I was repeatedly told that horses would never be a part of my world again. The sense of loss is enormous. Now I am able to come out of myself, to move beyond the confines of my wheel chair and my disability, and to feel that life might be full and rich and exciting despite the challenges I face. I am learning how to communicate with my new body, how to better use and strengthen my remaining functionality, and how to feel “normal” again, in a sense. When I am carriage driving, people do not even realize that I am disabled and I can forget about it as well.”
Tony, a young man with learning disabilities, regularly attended Access Adventure programs every week with Golden Hills School. Access Adventure Director, Michael Muir was impressed with how Tony learned teamwork, work ethic, ability to follow instructions and the enthusiasm necessary to gain meaningful employment. Michael asked “Tony, have you applied for any jobs yet?” “Oh, I did Mr. Muir, but Wal-Mart won’t accept my application because I don’t have a resume.” Muir replied, “Of course you do, you’ve worked for me for three years and have done a great job. I’ll help you develop a resume and I’ll write you a good letter of recommendation.”
William was another student from Golden Hills. Living with Cystic Fibrosis he was not expected live to see his fifteenth birthday. He thrived in the Access Adventure environment and graduated from Golden Hills Schools as our Volunteer of the Year in 2008. Using his work experience with Access Adventure he obtained a job that he loves in the wine industry in the Napa Valley where he works today.
Charla: “Yesterday was the last of my birthday celebrations and was by far the very best. My soul was completely refreshed. Thank you for including me in the training instead of a formal event. There are so many times when I have to be “excluded” because of my chair. It is nice to go somewhere that is not just accessible but differences are welcomed and anticipated. “ Pat: “Thank you for the willingness to share your joy of Nature with others and me. After a massive brain stem stroke in ’98, I have accepted and been grateful for life a day at a time. The trip opened a whole new world – I have some control. I am going to think of a future whether I have one or not.”
Tony, Special Day Class teacher “One of my students who participates in the Agricultural Science class at our school, as well as the FFA has learned how to drive a horse-drawn carriage. He has learned how to hold the reins, plan his course direction, and use his voice to communicate to the horses. These skills are the most important because they help build confidence, something that’s not easily taught in the classroom setting. I would say this is the greatest educational benefit of Access Adventure, that it has given my student “access” to his own sense of self-confidence.”
Note from Maria, Special Education teacher, to Michael: “Thank you for taking the time to come and speak to my students. Your stories were wonderful to listen to and your message was very impactful. My students can be a challenge to reach and get motivated; your words were very meaningful and inspiring to them, and seem to have brought out the best in each of them. Enclosed, please find their letters of gratitude. I hope to see you again in the spring on the farm! Thank you again.”