Glendon students offer marketing skills to riding program for disabled

A third-year marketing class at Glendon is about to apply its lessons to boost the profile of an organization that provides therapeutic horseback riding to children and adults with physical and psychological disabilities.

Above:  CARD’s Abbey Simbrow, front left, and Bonnie Hartley, front right, with Glendon students 


Students in Prof. Rafael Gomez’s Economics 3245 class will be working closely with the representatives from the Community Association for Riding for the Disabled (CARD) in Toronto to heighten public awareness and recruit more volunteers. It’s the kind of real-world challenge Gomez presents to his classes each year.

“The class faces tough challenges but also huge opportunities by working on such a multidimensional project,” says Gomez.

Gomez chooses a different class project each year, aspiring to benefit the larger community. He runs the projects as a simulated consulting business venture. Students in this year’s class have been divided into work teams and are expected to come up with ways to improve CARD’s Web site, fundraising and donation techniques, volunteer base, promotions and visibility.

The project began Feb. 7 when CARD’s Abbey Simbrow and fundraising coordinator Bonnie Hartley visited Gomez’ class to give students background information and answer questions. Their devotion to the program motivated the class to come up with workable ideas to help CARD fulfill its mandate of making “a magical connection” to improve the lives of adults and children with disabilities through quality therapeutic riding programs. Hartley said “volunteers come to CARD for the horses, but stay for the riders.”

Left: CARD volunteer leads client on horse

Students learned that medical professionals refer clients to CARD for rehabilitation, psycho-education and adapted sport. Individuals with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, autism, Down Syndrome and other conditions can benefit from this opportunity to establish a relationship with a therapist and a horse, and acquire a host of new physical and psychological skills. Clients’ feelings of accomplishment can sometimes break through huge barriers that they haven’t been able to overcome in other ways.

While CARD employs fully trained therapeutic specialists, it relies on 300 volunteers to deliver the physical program. For every rider who mounts a horse, at least four volunteers are required. Volunteers are also needed to look after the animals. For financial support, CARD relies on corporate and individual donations, and holds fundraising events.

Students will visit CARD’s facilities for a first-hand experience in late February then get to work on the project. By taking on the CARD marketing project, students get real marketing experience and a chance to help a community organization make an even bigger difference. And CARD benefits from their advice.

This article was submitted to YFile by Glendon communications officer Marika Kemeny.