WAXAHACHIE — Have you ever noticed that a sad child could be cheered by playing with a little puppy or kitten? It really works and is recognized for its power. Stan and Melode Seremet of Paws for Reflection Ranch extended that concept to include therapeutic horse riding. They organized the ranch in 2007 and have added many features since then.

Horseback riding is particularly effective for children with Downs or Asperger Syndrome or autism. The motion of the horse stimulates them, and the need to command the horse often brings them somewhat out of their shells. The Seremets say the smiles on the faces of these children or a first word spoken is inspiring.

They also have a Veterans Program for veterans and their families needing special care. Children as young as three are accepted, and there is no charge to the veteran or the family. They do not have to be referred, but the Veterans Administration will provide a referral if the veteran desires. Some of the professional staff at the facility works with these individuals and families.

There is play therapy in the critter cabin where one can play with kittens and puppies but also a hedgehog and a Russian turtle among other small animals. Obviously, everything at the ranch is closely monitored.

Fifteen schools with special needs children participate in a special program for them Wednesdays during the fall and spring. There is also an after-school program called Paws for Fun every other Thursday.

Other programs include music therapy, Easter at the ranch and corporate team building. The ranch works with about 125 to 130 clients each year. Eight professional therapists are on staff in addition to volunteers and others.

You can help by making donations, paying for scholarships or volunteering. Volunteering is critical to the success of a program like this. Also, you can sponsor a community event or bring your employees out for a team building event.

For more information contact the ranch at 972-775-8966 or check out their website at www.pawsforreflectionranch.org.

For more information about the Rotary Club of Waxahachie where we believe in Service above Self and doing things as a club we cannot do alone, visit the club website www.waxahachierotary.org. You can find your Flag Subscription applications there.