Something we’re very proud of at The Bridge is our ability to be flexible and creative when it
comes to serving the different needs of our community. There is no one size fits all treatment.
When we’re presented with individuals who are seeking support, we use many different
opportunities and programs to find the right fit for them. Claire* was no exception. Thanks to
their bravery and permission to share this story, we’re able to show you just how important it is
to provide support at the right times.
Her home life was tumultuous and at her young age she had already experienced substance
use, witnessed parents struggle with the same, and been removed from her home on more than
one occasion. For months, her engagement with the program was brief visits, no more than 5
minutes, to slowly build a trusting relationship with a new adult and support system. Claire was
quiet, withdrawn, and reluctant to let another person into her life. Due to the trauma Claire had
experienced, she struggled with persistent anxiety that affected her ability to attend school,
engage in social activities and make healthy choices. Over time, the relationship between Claire
and her youth outreach facilitator grew and Claire was open to connecting with various other
community professionals to help her find healing.
Claire has been participating in our Therapeutic Equine Program in both group and individual
settings, and the benefit is obvious. At the start of sessions she is often quiet and reserved, only
to blossom as the lesson continues. She typically leaves the session grounded, open in her
communication and with a big smile on her face.
Claire, now 15 years old, shared with us how the program has influenced her life, “learning
boundaries and learning not to be scared of things that intimidate me. Also it
helps me regulate my emotions and makes me happy."
Bree Cocquyt, Youth Outreach Counsellor, has helped us to share this story and writes of the
pleasure she’s had working with Claire for two years now. Bree notes that Claire has articulated
herself how the Therapeutic Equine Program has had more benefit than any of the other
therapies accessed in their time working together.
“The aim of this program is to provide youth with a healthy activity that might
otherwise be inaccessible, as well as information to encourage healthy habits.
Horses have a great capacity to help with healing and overall wellness. Working
with horses can encourage skill development around boundaries, connection,
clear communication, honesty, work ethic, and emotion identification and