Community: Girl Scouts introduce horses to autistic kids

La Crescenta Girl Scout Troop 9231 has completed its two-year Silver Award project titled Horses Helping Humans.

Eight 14-year-old freshman girls hosted a chance for autistic children, ages 4 to 10, to experience an afternoon with horses. The troop planned the event from start to finish. They created fliers, and advertised through Facebook and Instagram. They found horse trainer Millie Chalk, who supervised the event along with Melissa Watkins, whose family owns the Cherokee Ranch in Shadow Hills.

The girls, many of whom are frequent riders, went to the ranch for a training day and became familiar with the horses. Through research the troop discovered Glendale Adventist Play To Learn Pediatric Therapy Center in Eagle Rock. Dr. Traci Jones Martinez gave the girls a tour of the facility where they were able to watch the pediatric therapists work with the children.

This opened their eyes to how much love and personal attention these children need, said Debbie Bright, who is the troop co-leader with Susan Garrahan.

The day of the event, the girls arrived early at Cherokee Ranch and set up stations to feed, groom, shoe and ride the horses and also put together a place to relax and watch the horses. Troop members prepared lunches for all their guests, set up a table with decorations and placed their handmade signs around the ranch to create a western ambience.

The Girl Scouts guided and gently supervised the children as they brushed, rode and fed carrots to the horses. The children had a great time and their parents received a much-needed opportunity to just sit back and relax, Bright said.

“There was a very special bond that was formed between the Girl Scouts and the children,” she added.

Girl Scouts participating were Destiny Bright, Sarah Gillespie, Sammie Daidone, Amanda Adcook, Malley Musso, Sydney Pontius, Brianna Jenks and Catrina Voors.

Parents of autistic children who would like their child to join in the next event can contact Bright at (818) 726-2824.


JOYCE RUDOLPH can be contacted at

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World