Teens struggling in school show improvement after working with h - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Teens struggling in school show improvement after working with horses


For kids struggling to do well in school, there’s a program designed to help them stay focused and motivated and it’s all through working with horses.

When Syndi Sweet first started high school, she was having trouble keeping up. In fact, she was failing all of her classes.

After enrolling at her third school and applying for Reaching for Reins, things started to change for the better.

“I started off because I’m behind in credits at my school, which is Cedar Lane and this is a program to get your credits up and I needed them and I figured it would be a good opportunity considering I like horses and I love kids,” Sweet said.

Program facilitator Angelecque Thornton said not only do students learn how to groom, saddle, and take care of the horses, but also learn about leadership.

“Being able to do something outside of their normal day gives them great accomplishment and they feel empowered and important,” Thornton said.

The group starts its day at Circle C Farm with a family-style lunch where they work on communication skills.

The teens who are mentored by volunteers at the start of the 20-week program share their newly acquired knowledge with kids from Lighthouse Elementary.

“I’m more outgoing and I’ve got my voice because I couldn’t do that before,” said Serentity Pelow, one of the students in Reaching for the Reins.

For Sweet, she too feels like Reaching for the Reins has helped her come out of her shell. It’s working with the younger kids that really inspires her.

“It’s by far the most amazing thing I’ve ever done,” Sweet said. “Being able to see those kids grow, as well as, exceed in their life and seeing them change is just great.”

Now Sweet is getting straight A’s and has a bright future ahead of her.

“If you work with horses it’s really soothing as long as they trust you and you trust them,” Sweet said. “It’s just a wonderful experience.”

The program is funded by an anonymous donor and costs about $10,000 per year.

Students are driven to do well because they are required to have an 85 percent attendance rate and a passing grade in their classes.

It also counts as a course credit.

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