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  • Eileen McDargh

The Miracle of Stables—Plural


Girl on a Horse at the Shea Center

At this time of year, the Christian world thinks of the stable at Bethlehem and the birth of the Christ child. But there are other miracles in other stables… specifically the stables at The Shea Center in San Juan Capistrano, CA.


The Shea Center

Founded in 1978 by Derek and Nancy Lewis for their 10-year-old cerebral palsy son, Michael, Shea is a therapeutic riding center that today is one of the most highly accredited centers in the nation. I had the wonderful opportunity to observe just one of their programs, Stars and Stripes, designed to help U.S. military service members with PTSD. This program offers an environment for healing through equine-assisted learning activities. As Winston Churchill proclaimed, “The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a person.”


Riders at the Shea Center

Dedicated to improving the lives of people with disabilities, children as young as two years old may participate in PT/OT/Speech services using equine movement. Children four years old and up participate in adaptive riding classes which help improve core stability and more. Shea currently has 210 clients per week, over 800 participants each year. The youngest is two and the oldest is 100! To serve this many, 428 volunteers and 28 full-time staff do everything possible to care for clients and horses.

Physical and cognitive disabilities comprise 69 diagnoses seen each year at Shea. The top three diagnoses served are autism, genetic disorder, and cerebral palsy. Many clients speak their first word or take their first step at Shea. I call that a miracle.


Volunteering at the Shea Center

Why not participate in another miracle at a stable! Please visit their web site and if you are in the Orange County, California area, you might consider volunteering. I intend to be more involved for sure.


Happy New Year to All!


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