When walking into the Queens College Horse Boy clubroom, one can smell the peppermint in the air, and two small lamps provide light to the room. There is a rocking chair with a blanket in the corner, an exercise ball, a couch, two bungee chairs, and several plants. The atmosphere is relaxing as Sarah Salem, vice president of the QC Horse Boy Club and a junior majoring in communication science disorder, talks about why the club is set up this way.
“We have sensory triggers,” she says, “ but the smell of peppermint or lavender causes us to relax. Even rocking in a rocking chair is great for relaxing, or natural light.”
The Committee for Disabled Students recently created the QC Horse Boy Club after going to Texas to visit Rupert Isaacson’s farm. Isaacson created the Horse Boy Foundation because of his son, who has autism. Isaacson noticed how riding on a horse seemed to improve his son’s condition, and later created a book called “The Horse Boy: A Father’s Quest to Heal His Son,” and a documentary called “The Horse Boy.”
This led the Committee for Disabled students, including Nikolas Schulz, Sarah Salem, and 15 others, to visit the Horse Boy Foundation ranch in Texas, where they were impressed by Isaacson’s approach to help kids with autism. When Schulz and Salem returned, the QC Horse Boy Club was created with the approval of Dean of Students John Andrejack, whose son also has autism.
The club’s mission correlates with the Horse Boy Foundation’s mission to dispel the notion that learning is about suffering, and to promote the idea that leaders are created through an education that is best suited to their learning styles. The QC Horse Boy Club aims to spread awareness about neurodiversity, while creating a college community that is conscious of all of its members’ needs.
With five workshops planned for this semester, the club aims to teach the basic learning methods the Horse Boy Foundation teaches, such as the Movement Method, and to explore how students with disabilities can become more self-compassionate.
“We are our biggest critics,” Salem says, “ and that is why we need to be more compassionate to ourselves” Salem stated.
The QC Horse Boy Club provides a service called the “Mindful Community College,” which aims at creating a college community that is more caring and respectful towards its members. The club also plans to hold it’s annual Horse Boy trip. However, due to cost, the club will probably be traveling to North Salem,New York instead of Texas.
As Salem reflects on how far the club has come, she hopes Isaacson’s message of trying to be a “mindful community” will spread.
“Yeah. It’s just a community that is respectful and ethnocentric” says Wesley Allen, a member of the club who’s in his first year of college. All of his fellow club members care about and focus on the needs of the other members.
Students who want to learn more about the Horse Boy Club are welcome to stop by in the Student Union visit, Lower Level 50.