High schooler pats horse in a community partnership program

Embodying Partnership – Benson High School

Two people groom a horse together in a community partnership program

Earlier this spring, students from Benson Polytechnic High School’s
Social Emotional Skills (SES) class made their way to Forward Stride
weekly for two months as part of our Community Partnerships Program. The goal was to help students move more calmly in their own bodies and with horses. 

The SES class is a special education placement to support students who are learning social and emotional skills that will help them to be happier and successful in high school.  Most of the time there are 13 or less students in the program, and no more than 8 students in a class period in the SES classroom.  

In addition to a special education teacher, there is a full time Qualified Mental Health Professional (QMHP), Therapeutic Intervention Coach (TIC) and 2 paraeducators to support students.

We are proud to partner with our community members like Benson High School’s students. One of the educators noted, “Forward Stride fits perfectly into the scope of our therapeutic classroom. The goal was for our students to move into their bodies, while being near horses. Benefits included: coregulating, building trust with horses and one another, learning how to help horses calm down utilizing the Masterson Method and in turn calm their own bodies, and removing students from the school building and into the outdoors – these all led to some extraordinary moments. It was optional for our students to attend, and we found that those who needed it, went.

At the beginning of our sessions, students were cautious, but by the end, they were willing to groom, lead, and be near the horses with ease.

One 16 year old commented that they ‘forgot about existence and felt at peace’ with themselves.

Another, who struggles with attendance, created a calendar and came to school every time we went to Forward Stride and said that it was the best thing he had ever done in school.

- Benson High School educator

A community partner high schooler practices leading a horse
Group of high schoolers learn about horse body language and partnerships

One of the educators shared, “We are privileged to be given the responsibility to support amazing young people who have diverse backgrounds and varied stories about their educational experiences

We believe: 

  • Every student is capable of growth and happiness. 
  • Through patience, empathy and consistency we will work with students to achieve their social and academic goals at their pace.
  • We will keep expectations high and realistic as we work to promote the growth of our students.
  • With flexibility we will find ways, even during hard days, to move forward.

Forward Stride made what we attempt to do every day even better. Forward Stride is a healing place that allows adolescents to remove social barriers and move into themselves.”

Next year, five new 9th grade students and a handful of returning students from Benson will make their way back to Forward Stride!

Our goal at Forward Stride is to provide a safe and supportive environment where clients can learn, grow, and heal. With your donation, we can continue to develop our Community Partnerships Program, with groups like Benson High School, and change lives.