The work of Riders of Hope thus far, has unearthed a deep need and interest among individuals, schools and organizations for providing support to persons with special needs and their families.  That peaked interest has resulted in a current waiting list of over 800 children and adults, all of whom are anctiously awaiting the further development of Riders of Hope and both our activities and capacity.
In developed countries, hippotherapy and therapeutic riding act to improve the quality of life and aid in the development of individuals with special needs.  A more developing country, and particularly one with Bosnia and Herzegovina's recent history has an even more acute need for such programs for the following reasons:

  • Insufficient number of resources for the special needs population in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  We are intorducing some of the first resources that increase the quality of life and positively impact psychological and physical abilities of each individual, with the end goal of providing them with better functionality in daily life.
  • Lack of holistic development plans that incorporate medical, educational, sports and recreational needs for persons with special needs.  Furthermore, the concept of erly intervention, has yet to be adopted in BiH society.
  • Lack of creativity, which is an exceptionally important factor in the development of a child's self-confidence.  This can be uniquely achieved with work through extracurricular activities and sports therapeutic activity.
  • Stigmatization, isolation and exclusion from society, particularly for adults with special needs.  Families are tired of innefective therapies in a sterile hospital environment which serves as a constant reminder of their 'handicap'.  
  • Inclusion programs are not abudant and often lack the necessary creativity that would inspire individuals in a way similar to the experiences they acquire through sports therapy programs
  • Lack of developed and effective activities on multiple levels: developmental, therapeutic, educational, sports and recreational.
  • Untapped potential from unique contributors to society.  In fact, BiH's current society works to isolate and thus prevents the social functionality of individuals with special needs.
  • Increase in the number of children on the autistic spectrum has not been met with an increase in the ammount of attention that has been provided to the issue.
  • Every fifth person has some form of a 'disability.'
  • Fear of persons with special needs and aggressive actions towards them, represents one of the most critical issues in the complex process of reintegration of individuals with special needs.  Regardless of rehabilitation and education of children with disabilities, integration into daily life is most important.  Harmony among diversity and tolerance between healthy and handicapped individuals is not taught in books.  It needs to be practiced and experienced.
  • Unacceptance of persons with special needs also relates to unacceptance of their families.  Therefore, sometimes to improve their own public image, families will distance themselves from the person with special needs.
  • Violation of the UN Convention on Children's Rights, which emphasizes the right of every child to fully develop his or her potentials and the right to freedom under equal conditions regardless of age and mental and physical skills.
  • Omnipresent PTSD as well as a high number of war veterans for whom there is a special place in the implementation of a therapeutic riding program.  Evidence shows that sports persons in invalid chairs have higher self confidence than their inactive peers.

Beside the main target group of special needs individuals, the difficult situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina also affects professionals in the areas of defectology, psychology and physical therapy:

  • Lack of experts who are trained and responsible for the improvement of quality of life for children with special needs.
  • Insufficient number of available jobs
  • Insufficient talent and interest among young generations, for work with the special needs population.  (Insufficient number of positions and opportunities for development directly demoralizes young people in choosing this type of profession).
  • Currently, tere is only one educated therapeutic riding trainer in Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Currently, there isn't a single licensed hippotherapist in Bosnia and Herzegovina

It is important to note that by realizing the project of Riders of Hope, we would educate a generation of hippotherapists who would then have an opportunity to develop that branch of medicine in Bosnia and Herzegovina and open further possibilities for professional development, education and work for experts in the mentioned fields of psychology and defectology.

No financial, volunteer or professional contribution is too small to support the growth and development of this program.  We welcome and look forward to your involvement! 

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