Work with horses, meet children, and make a difference in your community
High Hopes is a therapeutic place people can call their second home. It is a riding facility in Old Lyme for children and adults with varying degrees of cognitive, physical, behavioral, psychological, or sensory disabilities both on and off horseback. HH provides a safe and trusting environment that is adversely geared towards helping everyone in any way they can. The website mission emphasizes that all who step foot onto the property are accepted and supported.
Aoife Samuelson, a sophomore at Arcadia University, who attended ELHS Class of 2020, volunteered there throughout middle school and high school. She won volunteer of the year in 2019.
“I personally loved it. It allowed me to be active and work with horses, which is something I had extensive experience with and missed, which is why I started volunteering. I ended up spending most of my free time there and became a barn volunteer, leader, and pretty much everything else,” Samuelson said.
Samuelson’s views are practically the same as another EL student.
“I have never been afraid to ask anyone a question when at High Hopes. There’s no competition. Personally, there
are a few people I have met at High Hopes that would do anything for me if I needed it,” senior Jillian Sylvester, a volunteer at High Hopes said. She has been volunteering at High Hopes since Dec 2019.
In order to volunteer, you must be at least 14. Volunteers get special training before getting to the hands-on volunteering. Becoming a sidewalker means you are trained to walk alongside a horse and encourage and aid them.
“An incredibly important aspect is the relationship each rider has with their horse and the people around them, which takes time,” Samuelson said. The hours are also quite flexible. It’s important that participants are consistent and the minimum volunteer requirement is generally just one to two hours per week. This is a significant opportunity to earn volunteer hours.