In a world where some children are born with disabilities that prevent them from experiencing certain parts of life, Dreamcatchers was born. This organization is located in Toano, VA on the Cori Sikich Therapeutic Riding Center, where disabled individuals are immersed in therapeutic riding experiences with the horses. They provide over 100 equine assisted activities every week to adults and children with special needs. It takes about 17,500 volunteer hours a year to make the magic happen, which is why the collaboration between organizations, nonprofits, and the community is so essential to the success of Dreamcatchers. Some of these programs include; Therapeutic Riding and Horsemanship, Equine-facilitated Psychotherapy, Equine-facilitated Learning, and Speech Therapy.
Here at Community Knights, we are proud to support Dreamcatchers through our sponsorship of Macy, a therapy horse with a big heart and even bigger eyes. She has served several individuals, giving people with intellectual and physical needs the opportunity to improve their abilities and quality of life. The beginnings of Dreamcatchers starts with a girl named Cori, whose life was taken by a vicious eating disorder. Cori was a horse lover through and through, and her family wanted to honor her memory in the most impactful of ways. The Sikich family gave Dreamcatchers its home back in 2004 and has since been changing the world and lives of countless children and adults. Dreamcatchers also has a major focus on community, and the power it has to change the world. “We’re celebrating our 25th anniversary. We are so lucky to have such a benevolent and enthusiastic community that supports us. We also try to support other nonprofits if they need it, like Community Knights. We serve communities from Richmond to Norfolk, so its a wide geographic”, said Development Director Terry Jacoby.
The volunteers and staff have nothing but love for this organization and the impactful work they do. Executive Director Janet Mayberry discussed her neverending enthusiasm for the organization, saying “I started out as a volunteer who loved horses, trying to do something productive and meaningful. Eventually, I became a board member, enjoyed it so much that when they asked me to be the interim Executive Director I said yes! She decided not to return, and I’ve been serving in this position ever since. We love our Dreamcatchers family, It’s a wonderful, caring environment with a lot of fabulous people involved. It’s been an honor.” On their website, Dreamcatchers explains that riding horses helps improve flexibility, balance, muscle strength and concentration. On a more psychological level, riding can improve confidence, patience, and self-esteem.
Including Macy, there are thirteen horses on the farm in use by the organization, with nine instructors who work year round to provide their services. “Our equipment makes it possible for people with disabilities to feel that same freedom people feel when they’re just doing something as simple as walking. We do mounted activities which involve participants experiencing physically the movement of a horse which mimics how a human body walks. They’re increasing their upper body strength, and physically a lot of different things are happening while you’re on the horse. Safety is our number one priority, however. Emotionally, taking care of a horse gives participants self-esteem, empowering them in their daily lives when they normally don’t feel in control of their bodies and lives”, said Janet Mayberry. Some children have even said their first words while on the back of a horse, an incredible and overwhelmingly positive experience for both the participants and staff of Dreamcatchers.
We are so proud of the hard work and dedication Dreamcatchers shows towards special needs individuals, as well as the equine society. The impact that selfless, globally oriented people can make is astonishing, and these GIFT recipients are inspiring and encouraging the community to truly catch their dreams.