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Ocala
Thursday, September 16, 2021

Save the Riding Program at Hillcrest School

To the Editor:

Marion County Affordable Housing has launched a plan for an affordable housing development on land it owns behind Hillcrest School. Two of three pastures on county land which Marion County Public Schools have used for over twenty years, may be lost.

Michelle Stone said it would be a multi-family complex including adults with physical & mental disabilities. That means adults with physical & mental disabilities will be walking by Hillcrest School’s young students. And Michelle Stone is on the Board of Transitions Life Care. She referred to this project as a “facility” several times. I doubt the surrounding neighborhoods would be in favor of this. I suggest building this facility on the property where ARC is located. ARC serves and improves the lives of adults with disabilities. It’s like a win/win situation.

Marion Therapeutic Riding Association started the horse program in 1985. In 2019, Stirrups ‘n Strides took over the program. The students ride four days a week. The “magic” in horses provides strong medicine for individuals challenged with disabilities. It improves the riders strength, coordination, balance, confidence, self esteem, socialization skills, increases attention span and promotes communication. It also provides the riders with a feeling of freedom and independence. Can you imagine the feeling a child confined to a wheelchair would experience when they sit on a horse? If this facility is built on these pastures, the life changing program that Hillcrest provides may be greatly effected. Marion County is blessed to have Hillcrest.

Janet Trexler
Ocala

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