RARITAN TWP., N.J. — The therapy horses and staff of Team Velvet Inc., a nonmounted horse therapy program for children ages 5-12, have made two videos designed to help children cope with COVID-19 stress. Scripted by lead psychologist Dr. Susan Edwards and videographed by Media Director Lillian Shupe, the videos present a unique format for the three therapy horses Velvet, Precious, and Little Annie to reach children.
The first video presents the story of Velvet’s near death and hospitalization as a young foal and his growing appreciation for the role of essential workers who help others. His story, illustrated by drawings from his children’s book Tales of a Wonder Horse: The Birthday, presents a forum for honoring those in many different positions who assist the most vulnerable during difficult times.
The second video is designed around children’s letters to Velvet asking coping advice. It offers an imaginary insight into a Helping Horse Board Meeting in which all three therapy horses participate in and offer information to the children asking questions about stress. In the video as in the context of the actual horse therapy, the horses work with the psychologist and are in the roles of psychological models, supportive friends, observers and collaborators in helping.
Both videos are posted on the Team Velvet Inc. website www.teamvelvet.com accessible on the home page and under the new section dedicated to the COVID-19 Rapid Response.
“Children have many questions about coping,” Dr. Edwards reported, “and they often tell animals things they don’t always tell people. In this case, the animals are able to report back to children helpful ideas.”
The videos were produced by Board Member Lillian Shupe who also provided the drawings and voices for all three therapy horses.
“We envision more helping projects,” said Dr. Edwards. “Additional videos are in process, books for children and parents co-written by a therapy horse-psychologist team as well as other imaginative works blending both art and science. We need to continue to be creative as well as flexible. Team Velvet Inc. is totally funded by donations and grants to increase public awareness, provide individual nonmounted horse therapy, and develop media on childhood stress and trauma. As the needs expand, our work needs to expand also.”
To refer a child or for more information on equine mental health therapy for children, refer to the website www.teamvelvet.com or contact Dr. Susan Edwards at 609-924-4330.
–Lillian Shupe, Team Velvet Inc.