RARITAN TWP., N.J. — Team Velvet Inc. won a Winnie Award from the EQUUS Film Festival for its videos aimed at helping children learn ways to cope with the stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was the second national award in two years.
The award winners were announced on Nov. 21 but because of the backlog at the post office, the trophy did not arrive until Jan. 15. Team Velvet held a mini-awards ceremony on Jan. 17.
The first part of the winning video illustrates how Velvet became a therapy horse after nearly dying as a young foal. It includes the horses’ salute to those serving on the front line during the health crisis.
In the second part, the horses answer letters from fictional children, Gina and Tony. The therapy horses participate in a Helping Horse Board Meeting which takes place on the therapy horse farm under the direction of Dr. Edwards. The horses serve as psychological models, supportive friends and observers of children’s responses and collaborate with Dr. Edwards to help children through this difficult time.
Dr. Edwards wrote the script and the videos were produced by Team Velvet, Inc. Board Member, Lillian Shupe, owner of Equestrian News Services, who also did many of the illustrations and the voices of the horses.
In-person therapy sessions were put on hold because of stay-at-home orders. By turning to video, Velvet, Precious and Little Annie can reach even more children at home in a unique way.
“The pandemic has been a double whammy,” said Shupe, “We couldn’t provide the services directly to the children, while the need for such services has expanded exponentially. If just one child is affected by a loss due to COVID, we’re talking about thousands of children in New Jersey alone. We needed to adapt and do it quickly.”
“The Happy Horse Hat Shop was created in response to a child saying we should do something to make children laugh,” said Dr. Edwards.
This is the second Winnie Award for Team Velvet, Inc. “Little Horse Big Medicine” won in 2018 when the festival was held in New York City. Like many events, this year’s EQUUS Film Festival was held virtually.
The 2020 EQUUS Film & Arts Fest Virtual Event included screening a collection of more than 50 films and documentaries from 16 countries.
To learn more about the Equus Film Festival see www.equusfilmfestival.net
At Team Velvet, Inc., therapy horses Velvet, Precious and Little Annie partner with Psychologist/Director, Dr. Susan Edwards to provide non-mounted horse therapy and increase resiliency in children who have experienced profound loss (death of a loved one, disfigurement by an accident, witnessing or being victimized by violence). If left unaddressed, child trauma may cause flashbacks and severe psychological damage.
The children participate in interactive games (like kick a soccer ball) while working toward treatment goals like increased self-confidence or emotional healing after traumatic loss.
“Our horses work in the arena of a child’s heart,” said psychologist/director Dr. Susan Edwards. “Print and video media make that arena larger.”
For more information see www.teamvelvet.com or call Dr. Edwards at 609-924-4330 to refer a child. Team Velvet, Inc., an all-volunteer organization totally funded by grants and donations, continues to seek a program benefactor for increased sustainability.
–Lillian Shupe, Team Velvet, Inc.