If you go
What: Let’s Talk: Infant parenting and toddler nutrition
When: Nov. 8; time to be announced
Where: Paul Derda Recreation Center, 13201 Lowell Blvd.
More info: Child care provided. For more information email Sarah Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org
TJ, a quarter horse with Sunny Horse Foundation, stood passively on the west lawn of the Mamie Doud Eisenhower Public Library as people learned to handle him.
“He’s a confident horse,” handler Pam Thode said. “He doesn’t fight with people. He’s calm and peaceful.”
Thode, founder of Sunny Horse Foundation, led about a dozen men, women and children through steps of how to harness and walk TJ while discussing chakras and how to connect on a spiritual level with the animal.
“Therapy in Nature,” a two-part event at the library, was the penultimate session of Let’s Talk, a series hosted by Broomfield Health and Human Services and the library that is designed to promote community conversations to allow for compassion and a broader understanding of the human experience.
Saturday’s speakers approached mental health with a hands-on approach — through equine therapy and a session on horticulture therapy in mental health.
About a dozen people took part in the equine talk, including Yvette Felderman, of Thornton, who was wrapping up with her morning knitting group when she spied a horse and came over to investigate.
“This is awesome,” she said, after being invited to interact with TJ. “It’s just the coolest thing how horses can be used in mental health services. To know it’s happening around here makes me want to learn more about it and get involved.”
While reading about Sunny Horse Foundation’s veterans program, which offers free weekly courses to military veterans who may be dealing with post traumatic stress disorder or other mental health illnesses, Felderman thought of her husband, who served in the military.
While he did not serve active combat, she said he has past trauma and thinks he could benefit from equine therapy.
“I think he’s scared of horses,” she said, “but I think this could be very therapeutic.”
Thode agreed to bring TJ to the library as another way to share their work with Broomfield beyond the classes she holds at her home.
Her organization works with Veterans Affairs and with Samaritan House’s program that helps homeless veterans transition into communities.
Veterans meet Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, with the Samaritan crowd coming Mondays to horse stables at her home. Her program focuses on “hope, self esteem and overcoming PTSD,” she said. The case workers who come along with the veterans on Monday always leave saying they feel better themselves.
“Everybody needs a little horse time,” Thode said.
She opened classes to Broomfield veterans in spring 2017. Several former students helped out Saturday with the classes and hands-on instruction.
Kelley Rawlsky, a columnist for the Broomfield Enterprise, led the second half of Therapy in Nature with a presentation and craft demonstration in the Eisenhower room of the library.
She talked about bringing people and plants together, how gardening can make people happy and how she uses therapeutic horticulture to reach youth.
“It’s basically using plant or plant materials to achieve a certain outcome,” she said.
For Rawlsky, that means offering pre-vocational, or instruction for preteens and young teens in skills like management, planning, teamwork and organization; and social-wellness programs while also teaching them about horticulture.
Pauline Noomnam, teen services coordinator at the library, said they city’s health and human services department has partnered with the library since January 2017 for the Let’s Talk series, which ends later this year. Past sessions have included presentations from Out Boulder County, an LGTBQ organization, one on meditation strategies and a workshop on journal writing as a therapeutic process by local author Carolyn Jennings.
The next session, which is the last in the series, will be in November and will focus on toddler nutrition and early childhood parenting.