Being a hero

Freshman Jessica Gill helps kids with special needs using horse therapy.

Being a hero

Ava Klein, Reporter

Ever since she was little, Jessica Gill has wanted to help the community.

“If I went to the beach, I would always bring trash bags so I could pick up trash,” Gill said, “or I would help anybody at school if they needed it.”

When introduced to the Buddy Program, Gill took up the opportunity and signed up. The Buddy Program is where a person helps a child with special needs participate in exercises and games instead of taking gym class.

In in 8th grade, when the program was over, Gill was looking for a new place to volunteer.

“My mom came across Partners for Progress on Facebook back in February,” Gill said. “I checked out the website and I really liked the look of it, so I emailed them to start volunteering.”

Partners for Progress specializes in therapeutic horseback riding, and it also helps children with special needs ride horses.

“Riding horses is something you have to put a lot of work into,” freshman and trained horseback rider Taaliah Johnson said.“Once you get that work put into it, though, spending time with horses can be relaxing and fun.”

Gill, however, is more interested in seeing the kids grow and learn than she is in being around horses.

“Although I have always enjoyed being around and with animals ever since I was in kindergarten, I never really have worked with horses before I started volunteering.” Gill said. “My favorite part about helping the kids is seeing them improve and get better. Even one week could drastically help the kids. I also love talking to the kids and making them laugh while they are on the horse.”

Every Saturday she spends two hours with the children. For those who want to help children with special needs, Gill has some advice.

“Be patient. If you say something to one of the kids they might take a while to respond, so you just have to give them time.” Gill added, “Especially when you tell them to do something and you don’t do it you can’t get mad at them you just have to encourage them to do it.”