2007 VISIONARIES:• Lily Yeh • Vernon Masayesva • Joanna Crell • Aimee Beth Ward • Dr. Gladys Taylor McGarey
JoAnna Crell and David Folger believe in the healing power of animals — horses in particular. This husband and wife team turned an old farmstead in Maine into a riding center for equine therapy. At Willowind David and JoAnna help crippled and autistic children gain confidence and well-being through riding, training and caring for horses. The warmth and patience of these disciplined horses coupled with the loving guidance of their owners is making a visible difference in the lives of the children and their families.
At a time of great stress in her life, JoAnna Crell had a stroke — she was 30. Fortunately, her family were the founders of Heads Up in North Carolina, which helped patients to recover through horseback riding. JoAnna rode horses and danced — three hours everyday for three months — and made a complete recovery!
To accommodate the long winters in Maine, David and JoAnna came up with the idea of an indoor riding ring. There was only one hitch — they didn’t have enough money to build it. But all was not lost because they had their friends. They joined forces and had an old fashioned barn-raising. In one week they built a barn as big as an airplane hangar.
They have framed the farmhouse with a fabulous garden, which spreads wild beds of color across acres of land. The handicapped and elderly visitors can sit among the head-high sunflowers, echinaceas and lupines and watch the horses and children. Nearby, in an old satellite dish converted into a pool to attract birds and beautified with children’s mosaics, ducks take a swim.
At a special summer camp in the summer of 2005, The Vision Riders hit the trails! Each week for three weeks, a new group of forty youngsters, from nine to nineteen, learned not only to ride horseback but to photograph what they witnessed during the events of the day.
It was no small feat to bring together and integrate 120 children of diverse ages and backgrounds. The crowning part of their daily adventure was to write vivid descriptions of what they had experienced.
JoAnna and David discovered that in giving these young people access to their own inner well of creativity, the youth not only blossomed but the more able ones jumped right in to help the handicapped. The philosophy behind this approach to healing through photography has been made popular in the book Shooting Back by Robin Sarrin, who was in fact the special guest instructor at Willowind for those three weeks. In the summer of 2006 this camp will be expanded to include additional visual arts and a new riding class called Vaulting on Horses — Art From the Heart!
Because of increasing numbers of patients and additional horses, JoAnna and David need to buy the neighboring fields to take some overgrazed areas out of constant use and build them up again, as well as another full-time assistant.
JoAnna Crell and David Folger need your help. Please visit our Donor Page to contribute to the future of these innovative and successful restorative programs Ten per cent of your donation will go to Gardens for Humanity and will be used to aid other visionaries in their ongoing efforts to improve quality of life on Earth.
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