Blacksburg, Virginia—Teenagers and police officers. Typically, you might think of confrontational meetings between these two groups. But this Friday at 10 a.m., the at-risk youth of Tekoa and the officers of Roanoke Mounted Patrol Unit will join together for the Third Annual Tekoa Fall Trail Ride at Pandapas Pond.
Officer C.E. Curry, a mounted patrol member for four years, said the unit jumped at the chance to show their support for Tekoa’s youth. “Most of the time, these kids would see police officers in a negative role,” she said. “But by riding with them, we will be able to give them a positive image.”
Officer Curry will be riding Seiko, an 8-year-old Fresian horse, and joined by her partner Officer C.G. Davis and Tommy Jack, a 13-year-old Quarter Horse. The Roanoke Mounted Patrol Unit began in 1993, and now consists of four full-time officers and six horses. Curry said although this is their first opportunity to work with Tekoa, the unit looks forward to future rides and teaching opportunities. “Tekoa is an excellent organization and horse program,” Curry said. “These kids come from a hard knocks life, and it really shows how horses can be outstanding healers and teaching tools.”
The Roanoke Mounted Patrol Unit is just one of the many community members who are joining with Tekoa to share their love of horses in this year’s trail ride. Local businesses that have participated in supporting this year’s trail ride include Virginia Tack, The Western Store, Radford Book Exchange, Famous Anthony’s, Burger King and Encore.
Since 1995, Tekoa has used equine experiential learning to help provide residential treatment and special education to adolescents who are experiencing difficulties at home, in school or in the community. The riding program gives residents the opportunity for hands-on therapeutic interaction with horses.
Tiffany Smith, Tekoa’s Equine Program Director, said this year’s trail ride has some added features. “This year we’re including trial challenges along the ride to increase the interaction and enjoyment for both our residents and community riders,” Smith said. “Through the completion of such challenges, all riders will be eligible to win donated prices and gift certificates from local businesses.”
Community Housing Partners (CHPC) is the sponsor of Tekoa, a non-profit corporation which provides residential care and special education services for at risk youth. Established in 1994, Tekoa operates 4 facilities and employs teachers, therapists and counselors to provide housing, education and life skills development for 50 youth annually. Using a strength-based model, Tekoa utilizes experiential learning such as therapeutic recreation, community service and equine activities to facilitate healing and healthy development for the residents.