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EAP

Video: Horsepower and Heroes Retreat news coverage

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This nonprofit organization is bringing a different kind of therapy to Central Georgia

By Taylor Drake, WMAZ

Published: 10:51 PM EDT May 6, 2019

FORT VALLEY, Ga. — At the end of a dirt road off of River Road in Fort Valley sits a farm with a few cabins, some horses, and a couple of stray chickens.

The land belongs to Gwendolyn Coley, the founder of The PEACH Pit. The Peach Pit, founded in 2014, is a nonprofit organization that works to provide equine assisted psychotherapy to people in Central Georgia.

“Horses are my heart,” says Coley. “I use equine assisted psychotherapy to help people but also work with horses.”

Horse therapy is an alternative for people who may not want to talk about their problems.

“Horses are naturally reflective,” says Coley. “You can talk to the horses if you choose to. They don’t speak any language that we truly understand, but they can help solve some of your problems.”

In addition to working with clients on an individual level, Coley and her team host retreats and events for groups.

Last weekend, The PEACH Pit hosted its third Horsepower and Heroes Retreat for women veterans. The three-day retreat means a lot to Coley, who is an Army veteran herself.

“Sometimes, we’re invisible. There are a lot of programs out there to help men. To have women come here and just be, we don’t get enough of that time,” says Coley.

At the retreat, women participated in several activities like meditation and yoga to relax and get in touch with themselves.

Coley’s organization gives back to the Fort Valley community, but has still remained a well-kept secret.

“Every time I accept a speaking engagement, people are like, ‘I didn’t know you were here!” Coley says.

With her equine therapy, Coley is also trying to de-stigmatize and therapy.

“That is one of our big goals,” says Coley. “There’s no harm in getting help — in fact, it can be helpful to get help.”

At the end of the day, Coley loves seeing clients improve with the help of her horses.

“We’ve had people come in with some really complicated stories,” says Coley. “They come here and start seeing results immediately. That amazes me every single time.”

To learn more about Coley and The PEACH Pit, you can visit their website or Facebook page.

We’ve been busy

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Spring has been busy for The PEACH Pit: We hosted three events from April 12 through May 3.

Whew!

A woman in jeans walks a black horse around an arena.
Participants select a partner and share a stroll around the arena.

First up was our Renew and Reconnect Retreat for women. Cathy Woods Yoga facilitated the retreat, which included physical and emotional parallels between yoga and horsemanship.

Next, we partnered with Minds-n-Motion to host the Fundamentals of Psychodynamic Equine Assisted Trauma Therapy training,

A black horse has its nose near a woman's nose. The woman has white hair.
A horse and a human connect

which became an international affair. The primary trainer, Ilka Parent, is from Germany, and her team came from Germany and Connecticut. We also had participants from Norway,  Alaska, Colorado, Tennessee and Georgia.

The training helped participants understand how trauma affects the brain and how horses can help clients process trauma.

Our Horsepower and Heroes Retreat for women Veterans was our best yet. For the third consecutive retreat, our facilitators returned: Demetria Cannady led the vision board session. Lisa Cummings, Air Force Veteran, led yoga. Laurie Reisman led meditation, mindfulness and Qi Gong. Donna Watkins and Paige Jobe facilitated the equine-assisted learning session. Donna also facilitated Accelerated Resolution Therapy sessions, and Lisa conducted Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy sessions.

Along with offering various nontraditional therapy models, we added Pounding, an aerobic activity that incorporates rhythmic drumstick pounding. Check out the video below with Leia Williams Hunley facilitating. 

Macon’s WMAZ covered that event.

Next up: the Peach-Quest Social Skills Summer Camp in July.

 

 

A basic need

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What’s the most important basic need: food, shelter, good physical and mental health, clothing?

If you had to give up one, which would it be? Many would keep food, shelter and clothing, until they absolutely had to focus on the health part.

What if you didn’t have to choose?

At The PEACH Pit, we believe good mental health is as basic a need as food, that no one should have to choose between any of the basic needs.

That’s why we’re a nonprofit.

We use an equity plan, giving everyone the opportunity to have a stake in their care:

  1. How much is your monthly income?
  2. How much are your expenses?
  3. What’s left?
  4. Of the amount that’s left, how much can you afford to pay each week for services – without financial strain?

Where does the fee balance come from?

Donations, grants, gifts all help us provide affordable mental health care to our clients who may struggle with the choice.

Please consider donating to The PEACH Pit. Every penny donated helps provide a basic need: mental health care.

Donate today.

Calling all federal employees

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Check out The PEACH Pit’s video for the Combined Federal Campaign Virtual Charity Fair to kick off the 2018 campaign. Please share with current and retired federal workers, and ask them to consider donating to us using CFC #27220.

The PEACH Pit (CFC #27220) is one of more than 20,000 nonprofit organizations worldwide approved to participate this year. Enter our CFC number on the following link to get more information: https://cfcgiving.opm.gov/offerings. Once on that site, donors can simply add us to their donation list.

One hundred percent of donations (ALL OF IT) goes to direct client care.

Video: Got a few minutes? Learn about us

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The PEACH Pit and Spirit’s Quest partner to provide equine-assisted psychotherapy, learning sessions, camps and demonstrations in Middle Georgia.

Four women sitting at a table in front of a bookshelf
Paige Jobe of Spirit’s Quest, second from left, and Gwendolyn Coley of The PEACH Pit, in green, discuss equine-assisted psychotherapy with the Georgia Post Review team. Click image to play (28:22).

The PEACH Pit in the news

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Don’t want to talk about your feelings? Equine-assisted therapy might be right for you

September 28, 2018 05:36 PM

Updated September 30, 2018 10:37 AM

Summer activity heats up at The PEACH Pit

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Before summer officially began, activity at The PEACH Pit began heating up.

children decorating miniature horse
Campers work on relationship skills during an EAP session at The PEACH Pit in Fort Valley.

First, we partnered with Spirit’s Quest to co-host an eight-week Peach-Quest Social Skills Summer Camp for 20 school-age clients in Peach and Crawford counties. Camp activities focused on eight *power tools: respect, responsibility, relationship skills, boundaries, empathy, choices and consequences, and personal ability.

The PEACH Pit also hosted almost 200 students of the Fort Valley State University freshman class for a day of service, and we partnered with volunteers of WellCare Health Plans to help manage the activities.

The contracted summer camp kicked off in June, with four weeks in Fort Valley, and moved to Roberta’s Spirit’s Quest in July for the final four weeks. Campers experienced:

  • Equine-assisted psychotherapy,
  • Yoga therapy,
  • Horticulture therapy,
  • Hiking,
  • Horse care and horsemanship,
  • Horseback riding lessons,
  • Fishing and
  • A heritage animal experience.

Many campers had never encountered any of the camp offerings, and some had never attended summer camp.

children surrounded by cows
Campers learn about heritage cows at Spirit’s Quest in Roberta.

While the camp offered fun activities, the primary activity was equine-assisted psychotherapy, horses incorporated into daily group therapy sessions focusing on one power tool a week.

Based on weekly surveys from parents and guardians, the camp met its primary objective: to provide children with foundational social skills that would help them be productive members of society.

From the surveys, 21 percent of parents or guardians reported being “very unsatisfied” with their child’s behavior in the areas taught during camp. “Very unsatisfied” was the lowest possible ranking on the survey.  Thirty percent reported being “somewhat unsatisfied” with their child’s behavior before camp.

After the power tools were taught, at least 50 percent of parents and guardians reported being satisfied with their child’s behavior, with about 15 percent reporting being very satisfied, the highest possible ranking.

The biggest shift in parent satisfaction with their child’s behavior was with respect. The results showed 63 percent reporting being unsatisfied or somewhat unsatisfied before camp. After the week of respect discussion, all parents and guardians reported being at least satisfied with the behavior in this area.

five people erecting tent
WellCare volunteers and The PEACH Pit board members erect one of two tents.

Another notable shift was with boundaries before and after camp. Before camp, half of parents and guardians reported being somewhat or very unsatisfied with their child’s behavior with boundaries. After camp, that number changed to 75 percent who were at least satisfied.

The FVSU Day of Service, coordinated with the iHelp Center, was Aug. 17, the final day of New Student Orientation Week.

People in blue-and-yellow T-shirts, some with umbrellas, standing around painted tires
FVSU freshmen await station assignments during their day of service.

Students arrived on two charter buses and wore T-shirts on their school colors of blue and yellow, with “iHelp FVSU” emblazoned on the front. WellCare volunteers were in orange-and-white T-shirts, making for a very colorful day, despite rain showers.

Group in arena with horses
FVSU learn about EAP sessions while waiting out the rain.

The rain dampened efforts to complete the planned activities – including erecting two tents, clearing overgrown brush, caring for the horses, stacking hay bales and erecting fencing. However, 10 dedicated FVSU volunteers and WellCare volunteers joined board members of The PEACH Pit in completing one tent.

Other volunteers were able to participate in two demonstrations of how horses can help clients in counseling.

Before summer ends, The PEACH Pit will host first responders for demonstrations on how they can put themselves first in getting mental health care, and we’ll be preparing for our third Horsepower and Heroes Retreat for women Veterans.

Stay tuned for more busyness at The PEACH Pit.

 

*We adapted concepts from “Power Tools for Living” by Robert and Nancy Magnelli; and “Head ’Em Up, Move ’Em Out” by Susan Jung. All are activities are based on the Eagala model of psychotherapy.

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