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Making Halloween a fun time for all kids

Miracles in Motion hosts a Halloween event focused on those with special needs
This friendly looking witch appeared to be brewing up some odd concoctions in Miracles in Motion’s Spooky Stables Saturday, Oct. 26, during the annual Boo at the Barn Halloween event. The non-profit organization opened its barn near Swisher to the public for an afternoon of trick-or-treating, games, crafts and other activities geared especially for kids with special needs. (photo by Chris Umscheid)

SWISHER– A Knight in shining armor, skeletons in a stable, kids in costumes and friendly horses were all in the spotlight Saturday, Oct. 26, as Miracles in Motion hosted its third “Boo at the Barn” Halloween event at its facility near Swisher.
The free event was an opportunity for the organization to provide a day of fun for the kids and families who are clients of Miracles in Motion, said Deb Leichsenring, the director of operations. “It’s also for the public, any family can come out here and enjoy this wonderful 76-acre farm.” The event was also a fundraiser for Miracles in Motion, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. “We have 14 horses (plus a trio of mini-horses, who act as ambassadors for the organization) that we take very good care of, and it helps us to be able to pay for their care. We definitely need the support of our donors, and we have wonderful volunteers,” Leichsenring said.
Miracles in Motion is an equine-based center offering four types of classes for people, primarily children (but also special needs adults), with social, motor or other developmental challenges. Classes range from working on balance, building strength and confidence (therapeutic riding classes), as well as muscle tone, balance, posture, coordination, motor development and emotional well-being (Hippotherapy sessions, where the student’s therapist attends as well). Through the “Horse 101” program, kids and adults with special needs are able to learn about horses, including grooming, horse care and leading a horse. All programs are led by PATH (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International)-certified instructors, with additional staff and volunteers present at all times to ensure the safety of the clients. Leichsenring noted there are only 29 such instructors in the state of Iowa.
In addition, Miracles in Motion offers a program for our veterans, the MVECS (Military Veterans Equine Care Squad), which is geared not only for the needs of a veteran, but their families as well, with a focus on communication, anxiety reduction, handling impulses, assertiveness and creative freedom. Only U.S. Military veterans are able to enter this six-week program, which is grant funded.
More information about the various programs, when they are offered, and how to register can be found at https://miraclesinmotion.com, or by phone at 219-857-4141. The website also has specific email addresses for information on classes, donating to Miracles in Motion, volunteering, or “adopting” a horse with a yearly donation and the ability to visit a specific horse and care for it.
“It’s pretty transformative what happens out here. It’s obviously therapeutic for our clients and our students, but I also think it’s really therapeutic for all of us who are out here and witnessing what happens,” Leichsenring said. At first, she pointed out, kids are a little anxious about being up on a 1,400-pound horse. “But then, it just clicks for them. It’s pretty amazing.”