CCMH Blog & News

Sande School of Horsemanship breaks ground for ADA expansion

Source: Rigmor Angel Soerensen : thechronicleonline Jun 19, 2018

Executive Director Kassi Euwer and Nick Terry.

Sande School of Horsemanship breaks ground for ADA expansion. On Monday, June 11, Sande School of Horsemanship in Warren held a groundbreaking ceremony where they received a $15,000 grant from the Oregon Community Foundation. It was local Oregon Community Foundation volunteer Kannikar Petersen that presented the check for $15,000. Also at the groundbreaking were Judy Thompson of National Alliance on Mental Illness, St. Helens City Councilor Susan Conn, St. Helens City Councilor Ginny Carlson and St. Helens Mayor Rick Scholl, among several other community members. The donation is helping to expand the property with a confidential meeting space, classroom and weatherproof viewing area complete with ADA amenities, including a mounting platform, wheelchair ramp and mounting lift for people experiencing limited mobility.

Founder, Instructor and Executive Director Kassi Euwer said the school started in 2008 and that it became a non-profit in 2010. “The inspiration for originally starting a program dedicated to serving underserved populations was a student by the name of Paige who was severely affected by autism spectrum disorder,” Euwer said. “She was non-verbal and had a lot of violent outbursts. When she would get on the horse her whole body would be calm and in the three months that she rode with us. At the time, I was just giving lessons when I would come home from college. In just three months, she started using her voice to express things other than frustration, and according to her foster mom and her speech therapist that was the first time she had ever used her voice to express something really other than frustration or discontent.” When Paige would get on the horse she would have different kinds of pleasure sounds with her voice, according to Euwer.

“She would indicate things that she wanted with different intonations in her voice. It was such a breakthrough for her foster mom and speech therapistit was really just the inspiration for founding the program,” Euwer said. Euwer said the school has worked with hundreds of students since their founding and of those, 25-30 percent are people with special needs. Program and Development Manager Brooke Crews said Sande provides regular lessons and camps for anyone who wants to enroll, and two special programs. “One for people of all ages with intellectual and developmental disabilities and another one called the barn buddy youth enrichment program,” Crews said. “We pair up kids, mostly who have been involved in the foster care system with mentors and instructors and they get to do horsemanship and horseback riding once a week out here.” Crews said.

Crews also said the school is going to launch a partnership with Columbia Community Mental Health where they are going to start providing on-site mental health services for the kids. “They will be out here. It’s youth counselors who specialize in providing mental health services for kids, so they will do fun, interactive activities that have kind of mental health lessons incorporated into them and they will connect them to the horsemanship curriculum,” Crews said. “They have co-authored a curriculum with Kassi, and we are launching it in July. It is really exciting and I think it will be tremendous for the kids to have that extra support.” In the winter, Crews said the school is launching a stable foundation curriculum where they will have adults with disabilities learning workforce development along with horsemanship activities. “This new space in particular is going to allow us to dramatically expand the number of clients we can serve, because we have been limited with the range of disabilities.

People have to physically lift the person and it’s not exactly accessible for a wheelchair, so it’s going to open up so many possibilities for people with a broad range of disabilities to utilize the space,” Crews said. “Not will it only expand the year-around capacity, but people with a broader range of disabilities,” said Crews, saying any given week about 60 people participate in lessons. Once Sande has the space established, they plan on serving 250 people a year through the non-profit programs, according to Crews. Nick Terry is one of Kassi’s clients whom horseback riding has been therapeutic for. “When he started it was a big deal for him just being able to stretch his legs,” Euwer said Now, Terry can hold on, hold his hands up using his core, is able to trot and can use his leg muscles to stand. “One thing about therapeutic riding is everybody has their own avenue depending on what their disability is and how they are affected by it,” Euwer said.

“Nick is really affected physically. He lives in a wheelchair, does some amount of walking, very limited a few times a week. We don’t plan to try to teach him how to ride independently but his goals are strengthening his core, stretching his muscles and releasing the stress in his spastic muscles.” Euwer said Terry is a huge success in how far he has come physically. “When he started, he was able to walk 50 yards and now he can walk 400 yards. He doesn’t do regular physical therapy outside of the barn. He does swimming and this every weekend, and they attest the majority of that progress to horseback riding,” Euwer said. Euwer said she feels incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work with people and have a positive impact in their lives. “I feel like my dad has worked so hard to build this legacy that I owe it to him and my mom, and myself to do something worthwhile and serve the community,” Euwer said.

Jessie, Executive Director and Founder Kassi Euwer, Melissa Riddell, Nick Terry and Benjamin Murphy.

CCMH Blog & News

Columbia County's 1st "Out of the Darkness" Walk

Police Failed
September 20, 2016

On Sept. 10th, 2016, 144 Columbia County residents walked a 2-mile loop through Scappoose, OR. This was for a generous cause to create awareness around suicide. Hosted by Scappoose Police Dept. and sponsored by Columbia Funeral Home, this was just one of the 375 walks that take place nationwide to support suicide prevention and awareness.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) promotes the idea that it's okay for people to talk about this critically important topic. It's okay for people that have been affected by suicide to have hope. For those thinking about suicide, to understand that there are people who care and can support you in whatever hardship you may be suffering. The AFSP has a goal to reduce the rate of suicide by 20% by 2025, and the best way to do so is to get people to understand and talk about it!

The walk was a huge success with encouraging speeches from CCMH's own Brianne Mares, prevention specialist, who worked along side the Scappoose Police Department's chief, Norm Miller, and SPD's records specialist, Hailey Holm, to create this special event for our community. There were also special appearances and speeches from Deborah Zwetchkenbaum, assistant director for Lines For Life Crisis Hotline, and Marilyn Grover, vice president for the Suicide Bereavement Support Group.

For Columbia County, we raised over $9,900 which will go towards research and bringing more awareness nationwide. This topic touches one in every five Americans, and in Columbia County it was found that an average of 11 suicides occur annually. As it stands right now Oregon is ranked 10th in the nation for rates of suicide, and our nation as a whole leads 2nd in the world for people ages 12-24. Can you believe that? There are so many suicides that occur through our home that we are ranked 2nd in the world!!

What is Mental Health First Aid?

First aid Failed
October 10, 2016

Mental Health First Aid is a curriculum that teaches about recovery and resiliency and how someone can respond to a person who is having a mental health crisis or struggling with a mental health challenge. MHFA teaches the mnemonic ALGEE:

  • Assess for Risk of Suicide or Harm
  • Listen Nonjudgmentally
  • Give Reassurance and Information
  • Encourage Appropriate Professional Help
  • Encourage Self-Help and Other Support Strategies.

Columbia Community Mental Health started offering Mental Health First Aid training in May of 2011. Since then 22 classes have been held and 294 participants certified. Since starting MHFA trainings, CCMH employees (3 currently) have also become trainers in the youth version of Mental Health First Aid, which assists participants to offer help to youth who are experiencing a mental health challenge or crisis until appropriate help is received or the crisis resolves. Different areas of the community have shown interest and some have already participated in a training and become certified Mental Health first aiders. We have trained people from the court system, schools, and juvenile department to mention a few. Because our community first responders had an interest in Mental Health First Aid training, we had 2 trainers take the specialized public safety curriculum supplemental training. We have participated in 4 Public Safety trainings, 3 of which were full week Crisis Intervention Trainings.

If you would like more information on the Mental Health First Aid Trainings offered by CCMH please contact CCMH