April 25, 2016 – The riders at Swiftsure ranch are all experiencing extremes in one aspect of life or another. Some riders come to Swiftsure Ranch with physical disabilities. Other’s with cognitive disabilities and/or emotional trauma. Some disabilities are obvious, and others are hidden. Whatever the experience, Stephanie Marquis has a passion for advocating that people living with disabilities are treated with respect, care and equality. This was the topic of the Volunteer Enrichment series that Marquis lead and taught last week.
Marquis’s daughter rides at Swiftsure Ranch and is a bright, intelligent, intuitive and loving person. But Marquis has noticed that most people only see her disability first. Marquis debunked many myths about disability by sharing her personal experience with her child who lives with a disability. Marquis stressed the importance of looking at our Swiftsure Riders from a different perspective – from a new point of view that would allow a person with a disability to shine.
Marquis taught the volunteers different ways they can communicate with their riders that would not focus solely on their disabilities, but more on their humanity and abilities.
Lacey Heward, the office manager and public relations coordinator at Swiftsure Ranch, also lives with a disability and rides at the ranch. To support Marquis discussion, Heward put together a video to share her perspective of what it’s like to live with a disability, debunk the myth’s about using a wheelchair rather than being confined to one, and some insight into learned helplessness vs. empowerment.
Volunteers expressed appreciation for the discussion and information and that they would like to play a bigger role in understanding and getting to know their riders.
The volunteers and instructors that attended the Volunteer Enrichment class have continued to talk about the experience and things they learned, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
We at Swiftsure Ranch want to thank everyone that attended, and especially Stephane Marquis for her thought provoking insight, care and her continued support and investment in this special place. We also want to thank Lacey Heward for sharing her insights and contributing to Marquis’s lesson.
If you have any questions about what was discussed, or if you have questions about ways to empower people with disabilities, or you would like to volunteer at Swiftsure Ranch, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!