Inner City Slickers connects at-risk youngsters, horses

LEESBURG — Inner City Slickers Leesburg , a program to give at-risk youngsters a chance to get out of the city and ride horses, is hosting its first one-day camp today at Serenity Stables.

The children attending the camp have been selected from the community and are considered at-risk youth. The camp will run from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. During this one day camp, Slickers will learn to rope, groom, feed, ride, and work together as a team. Not only will the Slickers work closely with horses, they will have the opportunity to ride a barrel-bull and engage in several trust building activities with other campers and volunteers.

On the surface, ICS is an equine-based program that gives at-risk youth an opportunity to have an Old West experience, learn about animals, and discover what it is like to work effectively with others. On a deeper level, it is a partnership between the community and its youth that says “we care, there is hope, and something can be done.” The principle-based values taught at the clinics become life tools for these youth, organizers say. Also, by teaching and participating, the community volunteers become living examples of a more principle-based way of living.

Slickers learn what it’s like to be a cowboy/cowgirl and learn to live by a Cowboy Code of Ethics focusing on kindness, dependability, and responsibility. They also learn what it is like to trust and respect the horses, themselves, and each other. The ultimate goal is to instill ethical and moral codes that will stay with them throughout their lives.

“There is something that happens, a magical thing, when a child and a horse meet for the very first time,” says Founder and CEO, as well as former Three Dog Night drummer, Michael McMeel. “Maybe some suspicion and distrust at first, usually on both sides, but as the child and this magnificent animal start to relax and see what is in front of them, that is when the true magic begins. As they develop a relationship and sense of trust, you find that both of their lives are being touched in a unique and profound way. “

Anyone interestd in participating or assisting in future events should contact Lori McCalvin at 229.395.8860. Serenity Stables is located at 493 Georgia Highway in Leesburg.