Take a Joy Ride
The Grow to Ride program brings youth from local neighborhoods together with caring adults to help the kids enhance literacy, develop personal responsibility through horsemanship, and learn the importance of food sustainability while providing a service to their communities.
As a reward for their commitment to reading and for volunteering in their neighborhood community gardens, Grow to Ride lets kids earn horse riding lessons at the Valley Water Mill Equestrian Center, a Springfield Greene County Park Board facility. The pilot program took place at Grant Beach Garden, and participating children thrived—several raised their reading level by a full grade! With friendly ponies serving as a magical, effective incentive, our kids will keep growing as long as we can afford to provide the program. Care to help?
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How It Works
Featuring the guidance of experienced riding instructors, kids who regularly volunteer in the garden learn to ride horses and strengthen their reading skills. Grow to Ride provides a safe place to learn all about horses, develop riding and saddle skills on a wooden horse, and eventually ride real ponies. The program also instills a strong work ethic and sense of civic duty by encouraging children to volunteer.
Funded through partnerships with the Springfield Greene County Park Board, the Grow to Ride literacy program features books on horses—a subject the kids care about. Children receive two books of their own to keep and read again and again. To maintain the literacy program, we count on the Horse Tales Literacy Project.
The summer program is generally one month long, and Grow to Ride organizers partner with Grant Beach volunteers to supplement the Hovey House summer reading curriculum. We bring ponies to Grant Beach Garden, letting kids get to know the animals. Then we break out books about horses, encouraging the children to learn more by reading. At the end of the month, the kids go out to the Valley Water Mill Equestrian Center for a field trip and to read to the horses.
We developed the winter program as a six-week program for Weaver Elementary students. Working with the Greene County Park Board, we bring ponies to Weaver Elementary, where learning about the beautiful creatures helps get First Graders excited about reading. Each student receives one book to keep—so they can practice reading before the big payoff. Six weeks later, we take the kids to the stable, where they read their books to the horses and receive a new book to take home.