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How CHP's Therapeutic Program Helped Alexander Beat the Odds

Alexander is a friendly, curious, and talkative twelve-year-old currently in the seventh grade. He dreams of pursuing a career in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) - possibly as an engineer or a physician. However, this wasn't always his story. Born at just 26 weeks’ gestation, weighing 2lb 2oz, Alexander entered the world with many uncertain diagnoses, including a grade 4 brain bleed at birth resulting in cerebral palsy, developmental delays, speech delays, and an orthopedic impairment. His parents Tammy, and Cedric, faced an uncertain path unsure if he would survive or what his life would be like if he did.

 

In 2018, just before his 7th birthday, Alexander joined the therapeutic riding program at Chastain Horse Park. He grappled with independent skills, self-help skills, fine and gross motor skills, balance, and speech. Committed to providing Alexander with the best possible future, his parents dedicated themselves to twice-weekly physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and educational tutoring. This level of commitment comes at a significant cost, and without the scholarship program at Chastain Horse Park, Alexander would not have had this opportunity. He not only participated; he excelled, conquering many of his goals over the years.

 

Last winter, Alexander showcased his progress by competing in the Cobb County School District 4H Project Achievement Competition. Remarkably, he won 1st place for his speech titled 'The Benefits of Therapeutic Riding,' a significant accomplishment for anyone, let alone a child who has faced speech delays. To make it even more special, Alexander chose this topic himself, demonstrating how much he had absorbed and learned from his therapeutic riding instructors at the horse park.

 

Chastain Horse Park has provided Alexander with a village of supporters. Volunteers have played a pivotal role in Alexander’s progress. This past semester, Alexander's side walker, Ms. Elizabeth, continued with him into the new semester — the first time a volunteer remained the same from one semester to the next in CHP history. This continuity has made an incredible difference. Alexander is thrilled to maintain this connection, working on his speech as they talk and walk together. At times, Alexander’s schedule is packed with school, homework, and therapies, making his mom wonder if they should take a break from his adaptive riding sessions at CHP. In those moments, it is Alexander’s dad who firmly says, 'Not a chance!' It is because of our community of learning, love, and support that Alexander’s life has been able to be transformed in such a remarkable way.



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