Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – How Horses Changed My Life

Name: Esontay Dianna Mitchell
From: Morrow, Georgia
Grade: Senior
School: Morrow High School
Votes: 0

I have always
given back to the community no matter what age I was. My passion for
giving back comes from seeing my mother volunteer countless hours
helping others in our community. I often was in tow with her while
she was volunteering weather I wanted to be or not. After being
involved in so many activities I found something I could volunteer
for that changed my life at the age of 12. After being accepted into
an all-girls programs at school I was told we had to volunteer at
least 5 hours a week to a community development organization.

What started out
as a requirement for school ended up being a passion. I started
volunteering at a horse barn that assisted young kids from some hard
areas with confidence building. When I started out I was very timid
myself. I was shy and not really wanting to come out of my shell.
However, the owner, saw something in me after the first day, that I
did not even see in myself yet. I started out just volunteering on
the weekends, that’s the only time my mother and father would allow
me to because of school. However, that little time allowed me to not
only change myself but change the lives of several younger kids.
Some of the kids were from broken homes that were staying in foster
care while others were from single parent homes were the court had
awarded monies to allow them to get out of their neighborhoods.

As time went on I
helped as much as I could until the summer. During the summers we
would have anywhere from 55 to 85 different kids each week. Several
of them bonded to me like glue. That bond was something that help me
to help them because they started to trust me. They trusted that I
would make sure that they were going to be ok. After all, I was
trying to get them to trust that at 3000-pound animal was gentle
enough that they could clean the hooves and not be trampled.

Looking in the
eyes of hundreds of kids over the past 6 years has made me realize
that giving back to the them actually gave back to me. It made me
realize that all people deserve a chance in life to see things,
experience things that may change their output on life. Having
volunteered over 3000 hours in the past 6 years I can truly say that
those hours were put to use very well. One of the little boys from
several summers past named Jacob, came back and brought his mother.
He told his mom that I showed him how to “scoop poop”. I know
that scooping poop after a horse may not be the most glamorous job at
the barn but for Jacob it was. His mother later told me that by me
taking the time to teach him to scoop poop made him realize that even
small things make a difference. Jacob has Autism, and often his
mother says he can’t focus on things but the fact that I took time
with him “scooping poop” made him feel what he was contributing
was important. To be honest what he does it important not only for
the health of the humans but also for the horses.

Being at the barn is sometimes not all it’s cracked up to be. We
volunteer long hours, working in the heat with very little shade.
Sometimes it is hard but the look on their faces at the end of each
day is worth everything we endure. I would not change, volunteering
at the barn for anything. I have made lifelong friends with the
other volunteers and the kids we help. Leaving the barn this fall
to attend school will be hard but I am only 2 hours away by car and
will be coming home regularly to see my kids.

Join our Facebook group "Volunteers for a Better World".