A unique Prince George horse therapy program is asking for support from the community, as the non-profit is facing a massive lease increase.
Located at a five-acre field at 1099 Porter Avenue, in the VLA neighbourhood, the EQUIP for Life Horse Therapy program is run by Catherine Kendall from the Connaught Youth Centre.
The program moved to downtown Prince George eight years ago to help vulnerable children, youth and families in the city.
Referrals come from mental wellness agencies, doctors, psychiatrists, Ministry of Children and Family Development, homeschool families, Indigenous serving agencies and by word of mouth.
The program has also started serving adults in need, parents of high-risk children as well as those suffering from addictions and homelessness.
The therapy horses belong to Kendall and each horse has been chosen for its ability to instill confidence within the child, youth or adult that sits upon their back or stands with them to be groomed.
However, in September 2023, the EQUIP for Life program team was informed of a potential sale of the property as well as a massive lease increase starting in January 2024.
The lease will be increased from $150 per month for five acres to $1000 per month for one acre with stipulations that the program will have to move infrastructure, a round pen and five raised bed gardens, and build a lengthy new fence on the one acre.
“We are very hopeful that the community of Prince George and beyond will get us through this tough time,” said the Connaught Youth Centre Society in a GoFundMe campaign launched to support the program.
“We need immediate help to secure another year so we can fundraise further, access more successful grants and partner with a variety of Prince George agencies to contract fee for services so we can continue to offer no fee for services to the clients in need that are not connected to an agency.”
They are looking to fundraise $16,000, which would be needed to cover the $12,000 lease for one year and $4,000 for moving infrastructure, purchasing new materials and building fences.
Funding for the program to date comes from yearly BC Gaming grants, which pays for support staff, program liability insurances, horse transport fuel, partial lease costs and some equipment.
The Connaught Youth Centre also says they envision building supportive partnerships with local businesses and community members to help the program continue to grow.
You can find the link to the GoFundMe campaign here.