by Nathan Warner
Thirteen-year-old Kristina Packer is painting faces for $1 during Zimmerman’s Celebrate the Season festival Saturday, Dec 3 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the basement of the American Legion Post No. 560. It is a fundraiser for Hillside HOPE Thru Hooves, an “Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Alternative Learning” program for youth and adults located in St. Michael.
Kristina loves horses and has a special place in her heart for pintos and Arabians, so it’s no surprise that she is the proud owner of a pinto paint and a national show horse. It is also no surprise that she and her mother, Sheri Packer of American Family Insurance, keep their eyes peeled for anything related to horses. “We first found out about Hillside HOPE Thru Hooves from a ‘Raising the BARn’ fundraiser at Denny’s in Otsego,” Kristina said, “and I immediately needed to know more.” A phone call later, she and her mother were off to take a tour of the facility and learn more about it. It didn’t take long at all for Kristina to want to be a part of the work and she decided to do a fundraiser for them.
No newcomer to fundraising, Kristina says she’s sold cookies and popcorn at the “Sizzle in Zimm Town” car show, hotdogs and brownies at Jim’s Market, and also a Buffalo Wild Wings fundraiser for Minnesota Hooved Animal Rescue.
This year, she is working to help Hillside HOPE meet their goal to raise funds to build an indoor arena especially with their current matching challenge to raise $10,000 given to them by one of their supporters.
She says she chose face-painting because her mother has done it for her work and it’s something she knows she’d enjoy, especially for a good cause.
Hillside HOPE Thru Hooves is an equine therapy program that utilizes Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) and Equine Alternative Learning (EAL) techniques developed with EAGALA’s certification (Equine Assisted Growth And Learning Association). Launched by Todd and Angel Bateman, the couple used their passion for horses, youth, and desire to help hurting families as the foundation and drive of the program. “For as long as I can remember, I’ve been horse crazy,” Angel said. “As my husband and I have made our way through life with three wonderful children and many bumps in the road, God made the way and directed our path to bring our passion for horses back to us, but this time in the way of healing for others.”
Hillside HOPE Thru Hooves operates as an entity within HIS Healing Heart, a ministerial program run by Todd’s mother, Terry Bateman, who is a licensed international ministerial pastor and experienced counselor and life coach. Specializing in emotional issues, Hillside HOPE works with people who are struggling with a wide variety of things, including depression, addiction, anger, eating disorders, trust issues, low self-esteem, family reunification and much more.
“Eighty percent of human learning is processing information through experience,” Terry says. “We use horses here because it’s more of a hands-on approach compared to the standard therapy model where sessions are conducted in an office environment with little hands-on activity.” She says that while the office environment works for some people it isn’t for everyone, and this work provides an alternative model.
EAP and EAL are “experiential” techniques, meaning participants learn about themselves and others by participating in “on the ground” activities with the horses and then process thoughts, beliefs, behaviors and patterns with the help of the equine specialist and mental health team. “Stuff comes up so much more quickly with the horses,” Terry said. “They truly are God’s creatures.”
Terry says these techniques are also effective tools for groups and businesses interested in team building and improving communication skills.
Hillside HOPE Thru Hooves provides one-on-one counseling services as well as group classes. They’ve received grants from the Sherburne County United Way and Three Rivers Community Foundation, a component fund of the Initiative Foundation, to name a few.
“We’ve been encouraged by the incredible progress we’ve seen in many of our patients,” Terry said. “We’re hopeful that donations will continue to enable us to provide this kind of care to those who need it and we’re excited about the future.”
It seems that the excitement is contagious. At least Kristina is all wound up about her fundraiser for the organization during the Celebrate the Season festival in Zimmerman, and she plans to do several more fundraisers this year. It is hardly surprising that her plans for the future also involve horses. “I want to go to college to become a veterinarian,” she says, “and I also want to do an internship at a horse barn to gain experience as a horse trainer and breeder.” For now, she’s getting her paints ready for Saturday.
For more information on Hillside HOPE Thru Hooves, visit their website at www.hillsidehopethruhooves.com.