Hunkapi Farm Receives $135k Grant to Help ALS Patients

Scottsdale equine therapy farm to perform quality of life study with Mayo Clinic

Hunkapi Programs, an equine therapy farm located in the heart of Scottsdale, announced it has recently been awarded a grant of $135,384 from the Gila River Indian Community to provide services to patients living with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

The grant, which will fund the program for three years, will also serve to cover the cost of a quality of life study that Hunkapi will work on in conjunction with Mayo Clinic Scottsdale.

“Our main goal through this grant is to offer people diagnosed with ALS the chance to partake in activities that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to with the disease,” says Terra Schaad, executive director of Hunkapi. “By giving them a chance to interact with our animals and even ride the horses, we’re offering them a chance to move in ways their bodies do not let them anymore. We’re so grateful to Gila River Indian Community for allowing us to make this happen.”

Horseback riding activities encourage stretching and strengthening of underused or underdeveloped muscles, improved posture and coordination, help develop gross and fine motor skills, increase the rider’s awareness of their body, and increase their range of motion. In addition, participants will increase their self-esteem and self-confidence, learn problem-solving skills, and increase their ability to focus and stay on task.

Mayo Clinic Scottsdale has pledged to carefully screen and refer only those who have been recently diagnosed and work closely with the ALS Association Arizona Chapter to monitor progress of all patients participating. In addition, Mayo Clinic has produced an evaluation design overlay which will systematically collect and analyze data to determine the extent to which quality of life has indeed been enhanced and improved for their patients.

“Having worked with Hunkapi over the past two years, we are a proud supporter of the farm’s incredible programs,” says Taryn Norley, President and CEO of the ALS Association Arizona Chapter. “We have built a wonderful collaborative partnership taking people living with ALS horseback riding. We appreciate the expertise and safety that Terra, her staff and volunteers provide for our patients.”

The program is set to begin mid-2021. A total of 72 patients will participate over the three-year span. The grant will also fund group therapy and other services for survivors of domestic violence.

For more information about Hunkapi Programs, visit hunkapi.org. To keep up to date with farm events, please follow the organization on Facebook and Instagram.

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