Sarah Griffith '06 Awarded Bristol Fellowship
Project is "A Friend in Me: How Horses Become Therapists for the Disabled"
By Laura Trubiano '07
Contact: Virginia Dosch (315) 859-4467
April 14, 2006
Sarah Griffith '06 has been awarded the College's prestigious Bristol Fellowship. The Bristol Fellowship was begun in 1996 as part of a gift to Hamilton College by William M. Bristol, Jr., (Class of 1917). The purpose of the fellowship is to perpetuate Mr. Bristol's spirit and share it with students of the College that was such an important part of his life. Created by his family, the fellowship is designed to encourage Hamilton students to experience the richness of the world by living outside the United States for one year and studying an area of great personal interest.
Griffith's project is titled "A Friend in Me: How Horses Become Therapists for the Disabled." She hopes to explore riders' relationships with horses through equine assisted therapy, or hippotherapy. She plans to volunteer at various horse farms and work with riders, parents, therapists, volunteers and coaches in order to fully explore the life of disabled citizens and the effect riding has had on this group. She will approach the project from the perspective of someone interested in coaching her own therapeutic riding program, by learning coaches' methodologies, how individual curricula are planned, and how to target problems with specific exercises on the horse.
Griffith will travel to four countries visiting non-profit hippotherapy organizations and volunteering on local farms. Her trip will start in Brazil, where she will attend the Federation of Riding for the Disabled International Congress, which coordinates disabled riding programs across the world and affiliates national organizations in one group. From Brazil she will travel to Australia, where she will work with the "Smiley" program to educate the public about therapeutic riding through displays and demonstrations. Then Griffith will visit Singapore where she will spend one 10-week session at the country's only therapeutic riding facility. Singapore is a unique case because of its recent independence and rapid prosperity; Griffith hopes to search for horse farms that are starting up programs or encourage traditional farms to begin a program in order to directly experience the earliest stages of therapeutic riding programs. Her final stop will be Germany, where the field of hippotherapy is believed to have been started. She will work on a farm that focuses on vaulting, a specific form of gymnastics on a moving horse, in order to study this technique.
The Bristol Fellowship is intended to be highly personal and is open to all interested Hamilton seniors. Proposals are evaluated based on inquisitiveness, a spirit of adventure, depth of personal interest, and openness to other cultures. While not a requirement, proposals are also considered for their sense of family connection.
William Bristol served as a Hamilton trustee, president of the alumni association, fundraiser and benefactor. He was one of six generations of Bristol family members to attend Hamilton, dating back to the chartering of the college in 1812. Mr. Bristol's great, great-grandfather became one of the college's first trustees after helping to found the Hamilton-Oneida Academy, which later became Hamilton College in 1793.
-- by Laura Trubiano '07