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Horse therapy offered for grieving children

Erin MacPherson/ Children riding horses for therapy in Myrtle Beach on February 21, 2016

Heartland Hospice and The Fidelis Foundation have been partnering together to help children in Horry County who have lost a parent, grandparent, of sibling using horse therapy.

"We provide a safe environment for kids to say anything they need to say, to process their emotions. Horse therapy is great for that. It tears down the walls," said Kirby Winstead, Grief and Bereavement Coordinator for Heartland Hospice.

Winstead said they starting working with the Fidelis Foundation a couple of years ago and only had a few children participate.

Sunday, about 20 kids were at the Double C. Ranch in Myrtle Beach for the horse therapy program. This program is offered for grieving children once a month and free of charge.

Blake Allen was one of many at the ranch on Sunday. Allen has two daughters, three- and five-years-old. His wife died of leukemia two years ago. Now, he raises his two little girls on his own.

"It helps as me. Being a single parent, it's tough. You try to counsel them yourself, but a lot of times having an outside source helps tremendously," said Allen.

On Sunday Allen brought his two daughters and his two nieces.

"For them to take part collectively has really benefited a lot," said Allen.

Allen said he's so grateful Winstead told him about this program.

"Every time I can get my kids in therapy, I take advantage of it. It's been a great help. It's really done a lot for them emotionally," said Allen.

Allen said he's been to the horse therapy program three or four times.

Doris Lindenwald has taken her grandchildren for the past year.

"The horse therapy gives the children a chance to feel comfortable and open up and talk about whats bothering them and that's what I like about it," said Lindenwald.

Lindenwald's son died in 2012. She just recently got custody of her grandchildren, a five-year-old boy and an eight-year-old girl, in September 2015.

"It's been a long and difficult battle. The children have come a long way since when I got them," said Lindenwald.

She said she's even learned a lot since coming to horse therapy.

"Just sitting here and listening to them council the kids has helped me help them understand whats going on. I think its wonderful. I wouldn't take this program away from them at all," said Lindenwald.

She said she just loves the program.

"Working with the horses makes them comfortable enough they can open up and talk about the bad things that happened, their loss. I just think its wonderful. I think it helps a lot having other little children that's gone through the same situation they've gone through. That way they dont feel alone by themselves. That's what i like about it," said Lindenwald.

The Fidelis Foundation also does Horse Therapy once a month for children in foster homes and children of abusive parents.

"We want to give them the love that is necessary in life. i believe it's a connectiveness of communities that makes a difference. That's what we have here," said Sybil Lee, Fidelis Foundation.

Lee said she helped start the foundation seven years ago.

They are always looking for more volunteers and donations, specifically for snacks for the children and paper products.

For more information, click here.

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