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NEW program for kids with special needs to interact with rescue horses

Mighty Minds brings families together at Medella Vina Ranch, learning by doing out in the pasture and in everyday life
Mighty Minds
Posted at 6:19 AM, Feb 19, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-19 08:19:44-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — A program on the Southeast side helping special needs kids is now growing and expanding. Mighty Minds is a learning by doing approach that has helped families come together.

Mighty Minds is being hosted out on Medella Vina Ranch with the hopes of connecting kids, families, and nature.

Kids who participate get to go with their families to the pasture and interact with these rescue horses and learn more about horsemanship.

Mighty Minds was created by a local mom who is raising her own kids with special needs. She decided to combine her love for horses with her desire to have a space for her child to learn and grow without having to worry about judgment or expectations.

“With having two special needs kids, I felt like anytime I went to places with them I get stared at and I feel uncomfortable," said Carrie Mizenko. "He doesn’t fit in, he’s got speech delays, he’s repetitive but having a place where kids can feel like they can shine and be themselves is phenomenal.”

Mighty Minds has lots of programs to get involved with. One of them is called the "Reading River" where students get to walk with horses and stop at checkpoints to practice reading and vocabulary words. Another program is called "Pony Pals" where kids can learn how to ride the horses, take care of them and talk to them nicely to hopefully impact the way they talk and treat themselves.

Mica Mountain High School also takes advantage and participates in the program.

“We bring some of our students will special needs out here and it gives them a different atmosphere rather than a school atmosphere. It gives them the ability to work with animals, work around animals, it really builds their confidence," said Jason Schlauderaff, Mica Mountain High School.

Mighty Minds is located at 4450 S Houghton Rd Tucson, AZ 85730. For more information on this new resource, visit their website by clicking here.

Brooke Chau is a reporter for KGUN 9. She was a part of Fresno State's newscast, Fresno State Focus and interned at KFSN-ABC30 in Fresno, CA before coming to KGUN 9. Share your story ideas and important issues with Brooke by emailing or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.