Fifteen advocates for the Atlantic Riding Center for Health (ARCH) sought support from their local government in hopes of saving their nonprofit organization on Tuesday, July 31.
The group was on hand for the Atlantic County Freeholders' meeting in Northfield. It was seeking support and counsel from the board to save their nonprofit organization and their efforts to help handicapped riders who use ARCH facilities for therapy.
It is currently subject to sale that, if it holds up, will be worth $410,000 for the facilities and the 12.84 acres of land.
Absegami High School Sophomore Chris Cruz, 15, of Galloway Township along with five other advocates made statements in support of ARCH.
“If ARCH is closed I would be devastated,” said Cruz. “Riding horses is one of my favorite things, I have done it since I was two years old. If ARCH had to be closed or sold a huge part of my life would be shattered.
Cruz, an honor student at Absegami, is blind and depends on ARCH activities.
Cruz attended along with his mother and riding instructor, Betty Morgan of Wildwood, who also spoke.
“I am there for my riders, I've been with ARCH for almost 20 years now and my main goal has been to keep that place open for my riders,” said Morgan.
In recent weeks advocates have been speaking in front of various municipalities after it was revealed that the board of ARCH is selling the property and now workers are trying to find a way to stop their own board from dissolving the program.
Equine therapy is a new form of occupational and physical therapy which has been utilized at ARCH for over 20 years.
“The main benefit comes from the motion of the horse and clients' efforts to maintain a balanced seat. It helps to strengthen the trunk and spine. Because a horse’s walking stride is similar in length and cadence to a human’s stride, the pelvic movement mimics the action of walking and provides vital exercise for riders who cannot walk independently,” says Forward Stride, an advocacy group for equine therapy.
In recent years ARCH, has been a partner at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey's Office of Service-Learning. The office is responsible for coordinating with non-profits to place students in their organizations for real world experience.
Stockton Communication majors have worked at ARCH for service learning projects which those students are required to complete in order to graduate. They are required to assist non-profits with public relations campaigns and other services.
Freeholder Chairman Frank Formica along with the rest of the freeholders pledged their support to look into the sale and would write to the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs to review the legality of the board's actions.