Scattergood Foundation

Advancing Innovative Strategies for Change in Behavioral Health

*Ivy Hill Foundation, Inc.

Name of Innovative Program: 
The David Program: 4-Gait Project
Sponsoring Organization
*Ivy Hill Foundation, Inc.
Name of Innovative Program Lead: 
Megan Hance
E-mail Address of Innovative Program Lead: 
mstrychowski@ivyhillequestrian.org
Physical Address of Innovative Program: 
1811 Mill, Road, Perkasie, PA 18944
Project Description: 

Ivy Hill Therapeutic Equestrian Center has created The David Program - that will provide equine-assisted therapeutic activity through the delivery of 4 collaborative programs designed to serve children, adolescents and young adults challenged by trauma, poverty, mental illness, & intellectual disability. Ivy Hill and Dock Woods Village will collaborate to break through the barrier of poverty and depression, bringing the transformative equine experience to children, young adults and families debilitated by the effects of trauma and anxiety, opening the door to hope and future possibilities. Ivy Hill and Penn Foundation Reach and Wellspring Programs will collaborate to promote emotional support, self-awareness & coping skills to adolescents and young adults with anxiety, depression & suicidal ideation through 2 group programs and a jobs program. This will incorporate paid life/job skills training, classroom and horsemanship education and relationship/trust development.

How does the innovative program work to improve behavioral health access?: 

The program will provide training and work/life-skill experience for young adults with intellectual and mental health disabilities through horse care, maintenance, custodial and retail part-time employment (20 hrs. weekly). This not only builds their self-image but provides a positive work record for future employment.It will address the emotional, social and life-skills needs of these young adults through four approaches:physical activity, social activity, meditative activity and emotional/cognitive wellness. Young adults marginalized by mental, emotional or cognitive illness are unable to find meaningful activity or feel the reward and acknowledgment of community interaction and participation. The holistic approach to well-being improves individual and communal productivity, participation and outlook, and the entire community benefits from the recovery and uplift of the body, mind and spirit that this collaborative program will provide. 

How does the innovative program work to improve behavioral health quality? : 

Physical Activity: Horsemanship, groundwork, barn work, retail work, custodial work, outdoor landscaping, general maintenance and classroom discussion and refection. Social Activity: Pre- and post-conference, teamwork, personal accountability, communication and collaboration, verbal and non-verbal interaction. A refreshment period will be provided for half-day sessions, a common meal will be shared for full day sessions. This will reinforce the concept of community and belonging, and reinforce conversational and interactive skills. Meditative Activity: The repetitive action of grooming and combing a horse will be designed to provide quiet opportunity to release stress, free thoughts, increase comfort, accept silence as communication, and yetbe connected to surroundings and companions. Emotional/Cognitive Wellness: Reflective classroom time and discussion, a sustained atmosphere of acceptance and inclusion, the reinforcement of self-esteem.

How does the innovative program work to address behavioral health costs? : 

Ivy Hill has applied for and received two grants in the amount of $7500 to underwrite the inital costs, so as not to incur any cost to the participants. The value and effectiveness of equine therapy is not considered by insurance companies. Continued fundraising, grant writing and donor sponsorship will be ongoing, as well as collaborative funding efforts with the Penn Foundation. The total costs for the project for one year are estimated at $40,000. This project extends and amplifies the counseling and group therapies provided by Penn Foundation mental health professionals, and conducting the group session in a barn venue and natural classroom adds to the synergy and effectiveness of the individual and group therapies. The excitement and response of our clients reflects the impact of this out-of-the-box therapy particularly for our young adult populations with anxiety, depression, and addiction. It is well worth the expense, and the fundraising efforts to insure the program continues.

Creativity and Innovation: 

Our communities of young adults with mental illness and addictions have conventional therapies that have some success, but few programs go above and beyond to reach a new level of holistic wellness. Utilizing the horse as a therapeutic partner breaks down the walls of stigma, isolation, lonliness amd fear in a way that few interventions can. The touch, warmth, essence and sheer physical presence of these animals inspire and encourage the humans in their sphere to open themselves to the possibilities of trust, connection, teamwork, and ultimately, acceptance and love.

Our young adults and adult populations that have fallen on hard times related to their inability to hold a job, or be hired because of their past history now have the opportunity to start at Ivy Hill with a clean slate, and are given the means to develop a significant job record and resume builder.

Leadership: 

Ivy Hill has a strong committment to leadership, from its Board, to its CEO, to its Program Director and staff. Our Stategic Plan focuses on servant leadership, collaboration, outreach and innovation. Program Director Megan Hance has focused on community involvement and innovative collaborations through this past year. She has led our program development to expand and reach marginalized and underserved populations in our community, shared her expertise and ideas with other programs and initaitives, and mentored many new and emerging programs in Bucks County.Our president and CEO, Chris Brockett, has made therapeutic equestrian programs for mental illness a personal priority. The David Program is so named for his older brother David, who passed away last year. He was born in the 60's. and era when institutionalizing those with mental illness was the norm. His parents refused, and kept David a part of their lives and activities. This is for Davids.

Sustainability: 

Ivy Hill's Board of Directors have been cognizant of the changing financial landscape and economic climate. We have increased our board size from 5 in 2009 to 10 in 2015. The board has dedicated itself to expanding our donor base by acting as ambassadors for Ivy Hill. We have appointed a Fundraising Director, increasing the number and caliber of our fundraising events. We have acquired a Development Director focused on increasing the number of submitted grants, community outreach and educational events, planned and initiated collaborations with community organizations and enlarging our media presence. We have engaged parents and caregivers in a Booster Club to plan and implement fundraising efforts throughout the year. We have redefined our therapeutic programs to fit the many populations benefiting from equine therapy, and have formed partnerships with community organizations to deliver unique programs serving those with mental illness.

Replicability: 

This program is designed to be easily adapted by other therapeutic centers, and is fluid and flexible enough to be tailored to specific communities and county services. We are setting a trend in asking the organizations around us: how can we help? How can we work together to meet this need? 

We share our program ideas and initiatives freely at regional round-tables, non-profits group meetings and summits, and Therapeutic Equestrian regional meetings. We pride ourselves on stepping out of the box, and encourage others to do the same through outreach and mentorship. In every community, our young adults seek the opportunity to work through their issues with innovative support and compassion. The David Program is an example of how that can be done, just by reaching out and asking:What can we do together? This is how healing takes place, how lives are mended, and how people realize their value.

Results/Outcomes: 

6-month & 12-month goals:• Improve self-awareness, image and esteem• Improve effective communication skills• Change negative thought processes• Improve insight ability to identify, accept and discuss feelings and observations• Develop confidence in problem-solving skills, conflict resolution and social interaction• Develop teamwork, accountability and time management skills. Participants will fill out personal and program surveys at the beginning, 6 months and end of the program. Two focus groups will be held over the year, one at 6 months and one at the year end. Therapists and counselors with submit subjective/objective notes to measure goals and outcomes. Parent/caregiver surveys will also be conducted, as well as weekly participation and work records by Ivy Hill instructors.Pre-and post surveys will be taken by the participants, as well as pre- and post evaluations by professional staff. 

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