Each week, the Student Council for Exceptional Children (SCEC) gives kids in the Muncie community a chance to do something out of the ordinary — ride horses.

SCEC – an on-campus student group that is part of a larger, national organization – offers multiple opportunities for students to further develop their interpersonal skills by working with individuals with disabilities and their families. One of the opportunities, which allows volunteers to work side-by-side with East Central Indiana Therapeutic Riding Inc., has become a favorite, said Elizabeth Wood, the vice president of the Ball State SCEC chapter.

“When I watch the children get on the horses and smile from ear to ear, I know that they look forward to this moment the entire week," Wood said. "I can’t help but smile too because I know I am helping make a difference."

The riding program takes place every Wednesday from 4:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Interested students should visit the group's Benny Link for more information.

The therapeutic activity helps the children improve their skills relating to muscular strength, balance and rhythm.

During service opportunities, student volunteers tack the horses, walk beside the riders to ensure their safety and untack the horses afterwards. Wood said. Volunteers also help instructors during routine activities and safety procedures during the rides.

Although the activity is fun for the volunteers, Wood added that it's all for the children and families they're volunteering to help. 

"The families are great, and I love working with the kids a lot – they're why we're here," she said. "It's not all we do, though. We have a lot of other ways volunteers can get involved, so we like to focus on those, too."

Through the SCEC volunteer program, students can interact with children and adults with disabilities outside of the classroom and work on their professional development through weekly activities, as well. Volunteering members can also earn service-learning hours for various activities, programs and classes in which they help facilitate through the organization, Wood said.

The Student Council for Exceptional Children is open to individuals from all majors, as long as they have an interest in helping children and adults with special needs. The riding program takes place every Wednesday from 4:30 p.m to 7:00 p.m., and interested students should visit the group's Benny Link for more information.

"We look forward to anyone who is interested," Wood said. "Helping those in the community is really important, it's all a part of what we're striving to do."