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Nonprofit GallopNYC uses horses to provide therapy to people with disabilities

New York City nonprofit uses horses to help people with disabilities
New York City nonprofit uses horses to help people with disabilities 02:30

NEW YORK -- As we celebrate Disability Pride Month, CBS2 is introducing you to a nonprofit with a mission to enhance lives with the help of horses.

On Tuesday, reporter Jenna DeAngelis spoke to some riders about the impact.

The second Nino Chitashvili gets on a horse she feels a sense of calm.

"I was a little bit nervous and then I see the horse," Chitashvili said.

Being around these animals has changed her life, explained by her mom.

"She has trouble sometimes expressing herself. She gives commands, so that's very empowering for her," Eka Khuchua said. "I think it helped her a lot. She's more confident."

That's the goal at GallopNYC, a nonprofit providing therapeutic horseback riding to people with disabilities.

"I've seen incredible changes in the lives of our riders. I've seen riders who take their first step. I've seen riders that say their first word," said James Wilson, executive director of GallopNYC. "Everybody who rides a horse, their life gets better and what we're doing is providing that access to people that might not be able to get it."

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In a place you may not expect it, New York City. In the shadows of the hustle and bustle in Queens is the serene Sunrise Stables. The organization also operates in Brooklyn and the Bronx.

"It's really important for us to be able to provide access like this close to where people live," Wilson said.

GallopNYC also has programs specific to veterans and seniors.

"It's an opportunity for seniors to improve their own lives because it helps them intellectually. They're learning new things, physically, because we're walking, taking care of horses. We do barn work also and, socially, we meet new friends," said Lois Chiarello, a volunteer and member of the senior program.

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Chiarello, a retired teacher, says giving back to the community gives a sense of purpose. She loves helping children.

"As a little girl that was suffering from anxiety told me, when she was on the horse, that when she feels anxious, she breathes out and when she does that she can feel her horse breathe out also and get less anxious," Chiarello said.

It's a place changing lives, one gallop at a time.

"You can come, too," Chitashvili said.

Lessons are $55, but through fundraising the nonprofit helps cover the cost of those who may be unable to pay. It is always looking for donations and volunteers.

For more information on how to volunteer, please click here. To learn how you can donate, please click here

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