Glossy and smart in her new pink livery, Malak (Angel) has found some new and very supportive friends at the Jeddah Knowledge School (JKS).
The school’s female Baccalaureate students chose Open Skies, a local organization that runs therapeutic horse-riding for disabled children, as a target for their social outreach this year.
Through holding a school fair to raise money from the whole student body, the students were able to raise a substantial sum that will help keep Malak in her stables for the coming year. “This is a wonderful gesture,” said Judy Houry, founder and organizer of Open Skies. “And it’s about a lot more than money, because it shows the disabled riders and their parents that there are young people out there who really do care about our riders and what we do together.”
As well as cash, the JKS students have committed to share with CBA’s men’s college to help out with the running of the riding days for the physically and mentally challenged children, over 80 percent of whom are Saudi, although the doors are open to anyone. Moreover, those who can pay do contribute, but over 90 percent ride free.
The JKS volunteers join the team of committed independent volunteers who have been helping out the organization two days a week, some for many years. “Their dedication is awesome, and we simply couldn’t do this were it not for them,” said Houry.
Deborah Wenlock, who runs the Psychology Diploma program at the school and is a keen horsewoman said that the students got far more than just the Community Action and Service (CAS) part of their International Baccalaureate out of their efforts as it introduced them to the skills of risk-taking, working together and seeing the effect of their efforts first hand. “It’s part of a hidden curriculum, and the idea of the IB is that you don’t just walk away with the academic side of it but also an enriched understanding of the wider world.”
Wenlock said that a major part of the exercise was that they collaborated and came together as a team to organize the fair, approach sponsors such as Twinings Tea, business arrangements and the target of their project. “It was a really great experience for them and now they are here to see the results,” she said. Twenty-three students comprised the team and some volunteers made up the total involvement to about 30 young women.
Wenlock said that when she presented the idea to the students at JKS they were not only keen to raise money but to see how much further they could go by joining in as volunteers. “They really wanted to be part of it and they are very dedicated.”
After the presentation of the results of their efforts, the students joined in for their first hands-on experience with Malak and her equine colleagues in the therapeutic riding arena.