Local nonprofit is ‘Be More Awards’ finalist
by MELISSA SNYDER, Banner Lifestyles Writer
Feb 27, 2011 | 1921 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print

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The goal of the 2011 WTCI Be More Awards is to recognize the superlative and often unrecognized accomplishments of nonprofit organizations, those who support them and those dedicated to improving the community and its citizens.

The awards are part of a national program for PBS stations — highlighting nonprofits’ excellence and providing accolades for nonprofits committed to offering programs for individuals to “be more.”

Winners will be announced at a ceremony taking place March 9 at the Chattanooga Convention and Trade Center. There will be a VIP Meet and Greet at 10:30 a.m., registration at 11 a.m. and the program begins at 11:30 a.m.

Gwen Ifill, moderator and managing editor of “Washington Week” and senior correspondent for “The PBS Newshour” will be the keynote speaker. Ifill is a best-selling author and has received more than a dozen honorary doctorates. She serves on the boards of the Harvard University Institute of Politics and the Committee to Protect Journalists, and she is a fellow with the American Academy of Sciences.

Awards are given to six categories, each honoring a different aspect of making a positive impact to those within the WTCI viewing area.

One local nonprofit that is a finalist is Tri State Therapeutic Riding Center, a therapeutic and recreational horseback riding facility serving individuals with physical, mental and emotional disabilities.

Their programs are designed to help improve the lives of individuals of all ages through equine assisted activities. The support of riders, parents, volunteers and the community keep Tri-State Therapeutic Riding Center operating year-round.

Denise Wright, executive director, found out about the Be More Awards through the Center for Nonprofits. After working several weeks writing the grant to be considered, she submitted it with high hopes to be a recipient for some much-needed funds to continue the new equine assisted learning programs the riding center has initiated titled “Taking the Lead” and “Taking the Reins.”

After seeing the progress and positive results of the teen volunteers sent over from the juvenile court system, Wright began to research and design lessons to incorporate the character traits which are taught in the city and county school systems.

Working with a team, Wright researched the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association’s (NARHA) equine facility as it relates to mental health and equine assisted learning programs. She spent time planning lessons then created a monthlong program on each character trait for at risk youth ages 10-18 with behavior issues.

“Partnering with Parkridge Valley and one of their representatives who loves horses, we worked out the kinks of what worked and what didn’t work well with horses,” Wright said. “They funded the program and gave us eight students for a pilot program.”

According to Wright, she was confident the new program would be a success because the court-ordered juveniles enjoyed learning and having responsibilities so much they returned as volunteers. With her fingers crossed she is hopeful one of the two areas the group is a finalist in, People’s Choice Award and Be More Creative, will result in additional funding to continue the promising new programs.

“It was such an honor to be put in as a finalist with all these other organizations. Getting our name out there and the publicity is really great too,” said Wright.

For more information about Tri State Therapeutic Riding Center call, Phone: 423-339-2517.