As we embark on a New Year and a clean slate, many among us will make resolutions for improved health and fitness in 2011. Losing weight and getting in shape are admirable goals and S.T.A.R.S. can help!
Volunteerism is a two-way street and you must consider what you will gain from volunteering for a particular cause or organization. While volunteerism is often thought of as selfless, if you are not personally or professionally gaining anything from your volunteer experiences, you likely won’t stick with it.
So how can volunteering in S.T.A.R.S. Therapeutic Riding Program or K-9 S.T.A.R.S. Program benefit your health and help you reach your fitness goals in 2011?
S.T.A.R.S. has volunteer opportunities for all levels of ability and fitness, but if improving your personal fitness is a personal goal, look no further. As a volunteer in a TR (therapeutic riding) class you will be
assisting clients with grooming, tacking and riding his or her horse or leading the horse during a class. Not only will you have the chance to change a life, foster independence and help someone reach a goal thought impossible, you will be walking. A lot. In the deep arena sand. If you think this isn’t a workout, please sign up for one six or eight week session. If you don’t see positive changes in your fitness level, I will buy your next Big Mac.
The K-9 S.T.A.R.S. programs offer ample opportunities to improve your health as well. Just like a TR class, volunteering with a certified therapy dog can include lots of walking. The demand for the K-9 S.T.A.R.S. dogs is greater than ever and volunteering for a St. Luke’s hospital visit will have you on three different floors visiting as many as 25 rooms. Let’s be honest here. Just bathing the dog in preparation for a visit can be quite a workout!
In addition to the benefits to your physical health, the most widely-reported benefit from S.T.A.R.S. volunteers is social, emotional and even spiritual. For many of us getting locked into the routine of work, bills, chores, errands, school functions and responsibilities can negatively affect our overall wellness. Volunteering at S.T.A.R.S. will introduce you to some incredible people in a positive, supportive and inspiring community and break up the routine and monotony of every day life. It is nearly impossible not to be lifted and inspired by the Hospice patient interacting with a dog, hear the stories of clients reaching a previously unattainable goal, making a hospital stay less frightening for a child or being someone’s hero for even a short time. A long-time S.T.A.R.S. volunteer summed it up beautifully, “volunteering for S.T.A.R.S.’ therapeutic program is my therapy too.”
All of us at S.T.A.R.S. wish you a happy, healthy and inspired New Year!