Bridges at Worthmore
A Brief History
About 10 years ago, Pam and Eric Kuster recognized that less than 10% of the children receiving special education services from our county school system were participating in the riding therapy program. Their son Scott, who was diagnosed with autism, benfited greatly from the therapy program. The benefits of equine therapies and activities were not even being considered for kids at risk. The local therapy program had reached its capacity, yet there were still many more children and adults in need of those services. There were individuals not being identified through the county school system, and the benefits of equine therapies and activities were not even being considered for children at risk. Something needed to change.
The Kuster's opened Worthmore Equestrian Center in October, 2003. Located on 50 acres, Worthmore was established as a community oriented equestrian center providing a nurturing and caring environment for all horse enthusiasts. With the support and blessing of a very supportive husband, Pam founded a new therapy program to fill the void in services. The Mid-Atlantic Therapeutic Riding Center (MATRA) was created and received its permanent not-for-profit determination [501(c)(3)] in 2008.
The mission of MATRA was to utilize the horse as a bridge to improve the education, physical and emotional fitness and general well-being of children, youth, and adults with special needs.
MATRA was a center member of PATH International since its inception. PATH International is a globally recognized organization responsible for the development and implementation of high quality standards within the field of equine assisted activities and therapies. By virtue of its membership with PATH Intl., MATRA was required to meet these standards. Our instructors were also required to meet certification requirements.
MATRA worked with a number of local organizations, including but not limited to Kent County Public Schools, Kent Youth, and Kent County Parks and Recreation. Most of our clients receive services through individual sessions. As with most organizations, MATRA went through some growing pains. The economic downturn had a major impact on the organization. The volunteer pool and funding shrunk but the need for services continued to grow. It was with the support and conviction of the Board that MATRA came through stronger and rebranded itself with a new name; Bridges at Worthmore!
Bridges continues to provide quality therapy and activities as in the past, and is poised to augment current therapies with new programming.