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Equine therapy program for veterans, first responders struggling with lack of funding

Click to play video 'Lack of funding reins in equine therapy program for veterans, first responders, health-care workers' Lack of funding reins in equine therapy program for veterans, first responders, health-care workers
WATCH: A unique program designed to help war veterans and first responders heal from mental trauma like post-traumatic stress is in jeopardy. The Can Praxis equine therapy program hoped to expand this year and start also serving health care workers. But as Sarah Offin reports, a lack of corporate sponsorship is forcing organizers to pull the reigns on this desperately needed help.

A unique program designed to help war veterans and first responders heal from mental trauma like post-traumatic stress is in jeopardy.

The Can Praxis equine therapy program hoped to expand this year to also serve health care workers.

But a lack of corporate sponsorship and a series of cancelled fundraising events are forcing organizers to pull the reigns on what clients describe as desperately needed help.

Read more: Veterans call for long-term support as another soldier dies by apparent suicide

“This is crucial, crucial stuff for these people. It’s saving them,” said Robin Rhodes, a former EMT and participant.

Rhodes worked for several years as an EMT. She left in 2014 and said she could find little support to help heal the mental trauma she experienced from the job.

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She is among thousands who have taken part in a series of three-day equine therapy sessions with Can Paxis. It’s a free service that gives clients and their families a chance to bond with the horses and each other.

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“The challenge of the pandemic has been the loss of over five major fundraising activities that allow us as a charity to provide these programs at no cost to the injured and their spouse.

“With the loss of those funds you may basically say: ‘The cupboards are bare right now,'” said founder Steve Critchley.

Can Praxis has applied for emergency funding from the Alberta government.

It is also being supported by a number of grassroots initiatives, challenges and individuals doing their own fundraising. But the group is hoping corporate sponsors will step up soon.