We are pleased to announce that the October grant went to Avondale House in Houston to fund horse back riding for one of their group home residents. Kelvin is a 29 year old man whose life has been severely affected by autism. Unable to live at home with his family, he has lived at one of Avondale’s group homes for almost 20 years. He experiences seizure disorders, has an intellectual disability, is non-verbal, and is profoundly autistic. On top of all that, Kelvin suffers from cerebral palsy; so much so, that he walks essentially “bent in half,” looking at the floor. To overcome his severe muscle and joint contracture, his doctors have recommended therapeutic horseback riding.
For the last year, Kelvin has been riding horses at the Sienna Stables in Missouri City, operated by SIRE, a therapeutic equestrian center. Joelle Devlin, his instructor, comments, “It took Kelvin very little time to learn how to crest mount the horse, and then just a few weeks to learn basic horse commands. He was a little shaky at first and required constant adjustment on the saddle.”
“Now, as he rides each week, I have seen Kelvin straighten inch-by-inch in the saddle. He is smiling and excited when he arrives at the stable, and has almost perfect alignment on the horse — from ear to shoulder to hip to back-of-the heel.” Kelvin has not been miraculously cured — he still has spinal curvature, but his horseback riding activities have helped his mobility and balance.
“He seems so content on his horse,” says Patti Kelly, Avondale House’s Program Director. “He has a little better posture and does not stumble as often. He cannot verbally tell us, but he really seems to enjoy the sessions. Plus, it is so important to keep him active, so that Kelvin does not ever become wheelchair bound, a circumstance that might cause him to be placed in a different group home setting. He is happy to live here, and we want to keep him here at Avondale House.” The therapy has no funding, so Awesome Houston is pleased to be giving our October grant to pay for Kelvin’s riding for the next 15 weeks to help elongate his mobility and happiness.
We first learned that Avondale House existed from one of our trustees, Andrew Limmer, volunteering to clean up the yard at one of their group homes. Andrew explained what Awesome was about and encouraged an application for any projects they may have and fit our awesome criteria. Philip Golden, Director of Development, was instrumental in explaining to us what they would use the money for as well as setting up a meeting so that a few of our trustees could tour their main facility where they have day time academics and activities for their clients. We’re looking forward to seeing more photos of Kelvin enjoying being a cowboy and getting some much needed therapy! It is awesome to know we’re contributing to bettering the life of another person and helping a great organization here in Houston.