EAST PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A local not-for-profit serves children, teens, adults, and veterans with disabilities through a therapeutic horseback riding program.

Inside a red barn, tucked behind the Fon Du Lac Farm Park in East Peoria, horses and their riders with Central Illinois riding Therapy (CIRT) walk and gallop around the area.

“We work with kids, adults, and our veterans and we provide riding therapy for them on our horses,” said Program Director and Instructor Jenna Walker. “So we work with anybody who has any kind of mental, physical, emotional, or behavioral disability.”

CIRT aims to provide a safe and fun atmosphere designed by professionals with the help of volunteers.

The program’s director said skills and experiences learned with horses translate directly to daily life.

“We can do so much with a horse and the kids don’t even realize that they’re doing therapy so it makes it fun for the students when they come,” said Walker. “They’re still gaining life skills such as confidence, hand-eye coordination, and to be a part of that is a very neat experience.”

The not-for-profit survives on donations and sponsorships.

“We keep our costs very low and we don’t turn anyone away for their ability to pay,” said Walker.

CIRT operates under the 4-H not-for-profit 501C3 charter & in accordance with the guidelines established under the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.).

It’s hosting an ice cream social, along with other partners, on Sunday, July 10 From 1 to 3 p.m.

It’s held at the Fon Du Lac Park Neumann Shelter #1.

Dig out your hats and boots for CIRT’s barn dance fundraiser. It’s set for Friday, September 23. It’s from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the barn.

Music will be provided by Whiskey River Dancing with tunes starting at 6:30 p.m.

Food and drinks will be available for purchase by Tin Roof Smokehouse until 8 p.m.

It’s a $5 cover fee or donation.

You can also be a spur sponsor for the barn dance. The sponsor donation deadline is September 10.

Contact CIRT at 309-699-3710 or email cirt@cirt.info for additional information.

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