FVSU iHelp Center
Before summer officially began, activity at The PEACH Pit began heating up.
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,
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.