The court battle over the Chardon Healing Fund is far from over, but Thursday brought a partial victory for the victims' families.
CHARDON, Ohio - One influential counselor helping Chardon Local Schools' students recover from Monday's school shooting comes in a small package with four legs, a tail and a lot of hair.
Giggles, a miniature horse, attracted a couple dozen youth outside of Chardon Middle School following a Tuesday morning news conference in the parking lot of the nearby school district administration center.
"Our role is to make kids realize this stuff does happen, but it is important to be strong together and laugh," said Tammy Collins, executive director of Right Lead, a non-profit organization from Medina.
Their motto: Kids helping horses help kids.
The program uses equine-assisted learning techniques to help at-risk youth develop trust, responsibility, team work and improved communication skills. Both the children and the horses often come from an environment of neglect and abuse, and they work together to help each other regain balance, trust and caring in their lives.
Teaching at-risk kids to care for animals, some whose behavior is as non-compliant and challenging as that of the at-risk kid, benefits both the kids and the horses.
Collins and her colleague, Emily Andregg, started the program more than three years ago. They knew from the start they will not become rich with money, but they do reap huge rewards in seeing both troubled horses and troubled kids turn around their behaviors.
The program receives its referrals, both two and four-legged, from a variety of sources. Youth referrals come from agencies such as the YMCA and community-based organizations, while abused horses have come from as far as Boston, Collins said.
The organization relies mostly upon the good will of its organizers and voluntary small donations as it does not have a major funding source.
The program's revenue stream, like its horse Giggles, is small. But the program's benefits are huge as was evident by the smiles on the faces of Chardon children who, for just a few minutes, were swept away from the tragedy of three dead classmates by the comfort of Giggles the miniature horse.
For more information on the Right Lead program, contact Tammy Collins at 330-571-0562.
Chardon HS Shooting
Football coach Frank Hall, who chased the Chardon High School shooter out of the building, is receiving national attention in a cover story for Sports Illustrated.
A football coach at Chardon High School is featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated for his role in confronting a gunman as his school.
A Geauga County judge ruled Friday that money from the Chardon Healing Fund will remain under court-protected authority until a final decision is made.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is ready to announce the recommendations of a committee formed to evaluate school safety in the wake of last year's school shootings in Connecticut and in Chardon in northeast Ohio.
The commencement ceremony for Chardon High School's class of 2013 being held Saturday is expected to be an emotional one, especially once Nick Walczak makes his way across the stage.
The families of the three teens killed in the Chardon High School shooting last year are suing the United Way.
Gov. John Kasich plans to deliver the commencement address at a northeast Ohio high school where three students were killed and three others injured in a 2012 shooting spree.
One of the surviving victims of the Chardon High School shooting is suing the admitted gunman.
Five law-enforcement dispatchers in Ohio have been honored for their work during a chaotic school shooting which left three students dead and three wounded.