ON HORSEBACK! - Active Rehabilitation and Social Reintegration of Trauma Victims

ON HORSEBACK! - Active Rehabilitation and Social Reintegration of Trauma Victims

Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

TOWERING POPLARS proposes group Equine therapy as a model of active rehabilitation, empowerment and social inclusion of children and adults trauma victims.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Lack of access to consistent quality health care and rehabilitation for trauma victims, inadequate system of psychosocial support, poverty, and social exclusion. Discrimination and vulnerability of people with disabilities (PWD). Lack of confidence and trauma caused by social exclusion. Insufficient public awareness of the rights, capacities and needs of PWD. Dependence on social welfare and inability to meet their daily living needs. And, as the most important for this project, their isolation from each others, luck of possibilities for "peer support". Also, project gives an alternative to standard unimaginative rehabilitation programs, focused on mostly unsuccessful clinical rehabilitation in hospitals, with very limited social interaction and a complete lack of meaningful content.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

By providing organized group hipotherapy (riding with physiotherapist) and therapeutic riding for people with various forms of disabilities, the project will give to PWD the capacity to lead independent lives: reach personal autonomy, economic independence and full social integration, and reduce the risks of exclusion, vulnerability and discrimination. It will enhance their physical abilities; improve overall movement and function; communication skills; regulate hyperactivity and anxiety; increase self-esteem and desire to achieve independence; ensure socialization through team work and work with animals; give them sense of equality and values; motivate them for education, employment and work, and "peer support”; raise public awareness on their abilities and potential; and improve the overall quality of their life. This model of active rehabilitation ensures multidisciplinary approach to rehabilitation of various groups of PWD, regardless of the degree and form of their disability.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

A group of cca 20 users will be attending Equine therapy through a 6 months period (6-8 users per month, 3-5 days a week, 3-5 hours a day). Association will collect medical records and records of users' financial states, to adjust therapy to their needs and ensure equal access for all. We will organize the transport, volunteers to accompany them to therapy and provide all necessary support. Therapies will be provided by professional and experienced therapists of Riding school "Haber Farm”. Therapy will improve their overall motor skills and physical functionality, gait, coordination, balance, attention, sensory properties and thus doing daily tasks. It will support development of intellectual abilities, help them develop the speech, cognitive abilities and ability to swallow, which facilitates communication. It is a healthy exercise in fresh air. The rider is being complemented by a magnificent animal, learns about him/herself and his/her environment. Self-confidence and self-esteem grow. To deepen these results, the workshops of non-formal learning and experience exchange will be organized twice a month. The issues covered will be connected with topics that concern our users the most. Monitoring and evaluation will be implemented throughout the project in order to gain insight into the effectiveness and results of rehabilitation for each participant. Additional evaluation of the social impact in their close environment will be conducted after 6 months. We will use all available resources and every opportunity to promote the project in public: media, web etc.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Therapy with horses has been around for ages. There are clubs in Croatia offering riding as method of rehabilitation for PWD. What is innovative is our approach, proposing for the first time group therapy for people with different disabilities, enabling their socialization, experience exchange and "peer support" as important aspects of psycho-social rehabilitation. Our advantages are: cooperation with the only club that provides hipotherapy, project's location that benefits from a particularly favorable micro-climate, as result of which a hospital for orthopedics and rehabilitation was built, which is "a seaside resort" for our potential users from around the world. Project can easily be multiplied in other countries, but also become "a tourist offer", ensure finances for sustainability.

Founding Story

There are many AHA! moments in this story. It's been clinically proven that just being in the vicinity of horses changes our brainwave patterns. It has a calming effect which helps stop people becoming fixated on past or negative events. Apart from many evident physical benefits, sometimes even so great as making people with cerebral palsy walk again, Equine therapy has proven to be particularly useful for children with autism, attention deficit disorder (ADD) and bipolar disorders - all of whom may find it difficult to communicate, interact with other people and carry out instructions. Even those showing severe anti-social and aggressive behavior become calmer and more communicative. The most important AHA! moment is that the success happens outdoors, in natural environment and group interaction, not in clinic. It is psycho-social empowerment, treats the trauma victims as subjects, not as objects, in rehabilitation process, allowing them to control the scope of their rehabilitation.
About You
Association for Rehabilitation and Education TOWERING POPLARS
About You
First Name


Last Name

Jović Karešin

About Your Organization
Organization Name

Association for Rehabilitation and Education TOWERING POPLARS

Organization Country

, 8

Country where this project is creating social impact

, 8

How long has your organization been operating?

Less than a year

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How long have you been in operation?

Still in idea phase, but looking to launch soon

Which of the following best describes the barrier(s) your innovation addresses? Choose up to two

Access, Quality.

Social Impact
Please describe the goal of your initiative; outline what you are trying to achieve

To: move the focus of rehabilitation for trauma victims from clinical institutions and closed spaces into communal area and natural environment; enable equal access for children and adults with disabilities and disorders to sports and social activities; maintain and improve their physical and mental health, stamina and mobility as the basic precondition for all their activities, work productivity and human living; enhance the chances of trauma victims for social inclusion; contribute to the education of trauma victims on basic human rights and responsible citizenship; combat discrimination against PWD, promote their capacities, raise public awareness about their potential and rights; and promote and affirm proposed method of active rehabilitation as the successful one.

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

Since this is a relatively new project proposal, based on the previous experience of the founders of the Association who recognized the need for social inclusion of trauma victims through previous pilot programs that have resulted in psychological empowerment of users, development and acquisition of new skills necessary for social development, in this stage of our work, the most relevant impact is the acknowledgement and approval that our project gained from 7 respectable associations of persons with disabilities of Istria County (Association of the Blind, Multiple Sclerosis Society, The Society of Persons with Cerebral Palsy, Autism Association, The Association of Paraplegics and Quadriplegics, Society of Persons with Muscular Dystrophy and the Association of Visually Impaired Persons), which decided to establish partnership on this project with our association. The impact is actually strengthening the capacity of CSOs of PWD for support provision for their members by joint action.

What is your projected impact over the next five years?

Long-term impacts for improving the quality of life and socialization of trauma victims and their families are: transfer of the acquired confidence in the real, everyday, business and family life; improvement of physical condition, increased physical activity, with positive effects on overall health; increased level of their autonomy; increased number of young PWD in secondary schools and colleges, as well as of employed PWD; increased tolerance and trust of the caregivers in PWD; more PWD and their families engaged in the provision of "peer support” and fight for their rights; raised public awareness about capabilities, potentials and rights of PWD; and finally PWD taking a major role in decision making processes. Also, we hope that in 5 years the project will become international.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

The luck of financial resources. Beneficiaries will pay a modest fee, according to economic abilities, although it will be a symbolic participation in certain cases. The share of donors will be an important for the "healthy" functioning of the Association. We will continue with fundraising activities. Once the project becomes continuous program, we may as well develop activities on a commercial basis to generate income for reinvestment in the project. What we fear the most is the global crisis that already significantly influence the social rights. Another barrier could be a luck of support from relevant authorities and media. But, we already made good connections with local and regional authorities, and the project will be widely promoted as the solution for the benefit of the community.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

First 20 beneficiaries successfuly completed their therapies

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

Close the financial construction/acquire necessary financial resources

Task 2

Organize: partners, volinteers, beneficiaries and their families, transport and the chedule of therapies, workshops etc.

Task 3

Implement therapies and workshops, develop questionnaires and collect feedbacks/indicators of their impact

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

Pilot project evaluated, promoted results and second round of the project poised to lounch - ensured continuation of the project

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

Conduct pilot project evaluation, including first evaluation of social impact, public promotion of the results

Task 2

Acquire necessary financial resources for continuation of the programme

Task 3

Gather another 20 (or more) beneficiaries/project participants - posibly international group of participants

Tell us about your partnerships

The partnership has been established with 7 respectable associations of persons with disabilities of Istria County: Association of the Blind, Multiple Sclerosis Society, The Society of Persons with Cerebral Palsy, Autism Association, The Association of Paraplegics and Quadriplegics, Society of Persons with Muscular Dystrophy and the Association of Visually Impaired Persons, and also with Riding school "Haber Farm" that will provide therapies. Cooperation has been established with Istrian Volunteers' Centre in order to involve at least 5 volunteers to provide support for users during therapies.

Are you currently targeting other specific populations, locations, or markets for your innovation? If so, where and why?

Association TOWERING POPLARS is in contact with many European CSOs, through other projects that we developed. Since the Republic of Croatia is about to become a member of EU in 2013., we aim to raise this project in future, and our activities in general, on European level, develop cross-border cooperation and involve CSOs from EU, and their beneficiaries. Of course, we are open for cooperation with organizations from all over the world, but the European cooperation will increase our chances to become a user of financial resources from EU funds. And we also wish to promote this method in EU.

What type of operating environment and internal organizational factors make your innovation successful?

Reliable partners and associates (CSOs of people with disabilities active for more than 50 years); experience of the members of our Association; motivated users; experienced and professional therapists, internationally recognized as experts in their field. Good preparation of project implementation and organization, regular briefings/meetings of project partners, volunteers and other staff working on the project, in order to discuss the upcoming project activities, prepare an implementation plan, agree on delegation of tasks, evaluate implemented activities, etc.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list

Association TOWERING POPLARS welcomes all potential associates, partners and promoters of the same social values from around the world. We actively work on networking and wide promotion of innovative models of rehabilitation and education, as well as on development of new projects for improving the quality of life of vulnerable and marginalized social groups, especially children and young adults.