For nineteen years, Urban Stable has changed the lives of over 700 at-risk youth through its experiential equine learning program. With the COVID-19 shut-down the program has been suspended indefinitely, creating an uncertain future for the horses and youth who benefit from this experience. In an effort to survive and recover from the impacts of COVID-19, Urban Stable is launching its Back in the Saddle Campaign, focused on contributing to the cost and care of Urban Stable’s program horses and investing in the sustainability of our school programs.
Impact of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic brought Urban Stable’s programming to a halt when the Manitoba school closures were announced on March 13th. “Some of the youth in our program were on the verge of showcasing their newly acquired skills and life learning to their teachers, parents and supporters,” said Wendy MacDonald, Executive Director. “We were disappointed they never had the chance to finish their year. Seeing the students beam with pride over their accomplishments is the reason we do what we do.”
Many of the youth in the program struggle with anxiety, depression and ADHD. “I wonder everyday how our students are doing now that their daily routines have changed,” said MacDonald. “We know that our school partners, families and front-line community resources are working hard to look after the students, but the unique relationship and experiences the kids have with their horses and teammates is hard to replicate.” Getting the students back in the saddle will be more important than ever once school resumes.
Although up to 50% of the program cost is covered by school partners, Urban Stable does not receive any government funding and relies heavily each year on donations, fundraising and grants to cover the remaining costs. Currently, government and other fundraising efforts are focused on addressing front-line needs related to COVID-19. Although understandable, this has left small charities like Urban Stable vulnerable. With funding shortages, all Urban Stable staff and instructors were laid off, with MacDonald only working a few hours per week to continue basic operations. Typically, funds received at this time of year would go toward the lease and care of the horses, current programming and planning for next year. Now Urban Stable is asking the public for their help.
We need your help for our horses:
For the past four years Urban Stable has operated out of Camp Assiniboia where horse costs, care and training have been a shared partnership. The essential needs of the horses are being met, but Urban Stable has been unable to make its usual contribution to the ongoing cost of care. “Our horses open doors for kids who are struggling socially, academically or behaviourally to connect with their peers, families, education and communities. We want to continue to do our part for these horses who are at the heart of our program,” said MacDonald.
We need your help for our students:
Although MacDonald plans to reach out to the students with horse themed materials, she remains focused on the goal of getting the program up and running again. “Our hope is that fall programming will proceed once the schools are back in session. These horses have become a huge part of the kids’ lives. I hope we can make it through to the other side, so we can get the kids reunited with the horses.” To do this, Urban Stable needs to secure funding and have the resources to plan and prepare for next year’s program.
How you can help:
We realize these are very tough times for everyone but IF you are able to consider a donation this support will ensure Urban Stable’s ability to rebound from COVID-19 as the program enters into its 20th year serving 70+ youth annually in partnership with four school divisions (21 schools) and two community partners. You can also assist by distributing this campaign information to others who may be able to help spread the word or donate.
Please help our students get Back in the Saddle again. Donate today below.
Contact: Wendy MacDonald, Executive Director, 204-410-5042, email@example.com
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