Contact: Connie Watson 512-943-1663 (office) 512-844-3542 (cell) FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 20, 2013 (Williamson County, TX) -- Williamson County Juvenile Services (WCJS) has received a grant for $12,500 from the Mustang Heritage Foundation. This partnership will provide a collaborative framework of creative programs to draw attention to the plight of the American Mustang while promoting emotional and behavioral change in the juveniles participating in a variety of grant activities. WCJS will use these funds to design and implement three different day camp settings that will utilize experiential activities, creative art activities and basic instructional methods with at-risk youth, ages 10 to 17, within the Williamson County juvenile justice system. These day camps will be used to educate the participants regarding the plight of the American Mustang and the roles played by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Mustang Heritage Foundation (MHF) to address the current issues facing these horses. Parallels also will be made between the horses and the juveniles, specifically the concept of transforming a liability (unmanaged mustangs and juveniles with offenses) into an asset by utilizing a program designed to build skills and further develop strengths. Patti Colbert, Mustang Heritage Foundation executive director, states, ‚The connection between previously wild horses and challenged youth brings out the best in both of them.‛ Two day camps will take place at Colbert Ranch in Bertram, Texas, and a one day camp will take place in the secure detention yard at the Juvenile Justice Center located in Georgetown, Texas. These camps will include educational sessions covering basic Mustang knowledge, several art projects using varied art media, and a horse trainer presentation by individuals who have actually trained wild

Mustangs. The Bertram day camp also will include outside activities centered on familiarizing the participants with horses. Working with non-Mustang horses will require patience, trust, empathy, self-awareness, personal responsibility and self-confidence from the juveniles who are participating. Through structured activities with the horses, the juveniles will have the opportunity to develop a better understanding of themselves and how their attitude and emotion impacts others. ‚Horses are like mirrors,‛ stated Marla Burns, adventure therapist, LPC-S. ‚In essence, they allow a person to see their own emotional reflection. They reflect what’s going on in the juvenile who is working with them.‛ Horses have an innate sensitivity to the emotions of others, and they provide almost instant feedback regarding those emotions. This will, in turn, require an immediate adjustment from the juveniles to address the issues blocking progress with their horse if they want to be successful. This can translate into a better understanding of what healthy relationships with other human beings should look like. This grant partnership will allow all entities to build strengths collaboratively and address issues that share some common threads. Just as the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Mustang Heritage Foundation (MHF) work to protect the Mustang through increased adoptions while preserving the public lands, Williamson County Juvenile Services works to preserve the juvenile and their opportunities for a positive future while protecting the safety of the area communities. ‚This innovative and creative enrichment program parallels juvenile services vision statement ‘Making a difference in our community, creating opportunities for positive change through hope, empowerment prevention and accountability’,‛ states Scott Matthew, executive director of Williamson County Juvenile Services.

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