Leg Up Farm was chosen by students at York College to receive a $5,000 grant, which will be used to expand a program this summer for York City School District students.

The grant comes from the "Philanthropy, Social Impact and Nonprofit Sector" course offered at the college, where students visit local charitable organizations to learn more about the process of running one, according to a news release from the college. At the end of the course, students give a $5,000 grant to support a York City nonprofit.

Leg Up Farm is a local nonprofit located in Mount Wolf that works with children with special needs. Because this program is geared toward York City students, it qualified. Leg Up Farm offers physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, nutritional services, therapy for behavioral health and therapeutic horsemanship.

Jennifer Hitz, the development director for Leg Up Farm, said the funding was needed at the organization.

"It's funding we've been looking to secure from somewhere for a while, so the fact the college came through with it was great," Hitz said.

Hitz oversees the fundraising efforts of Leg Up Farm, so she was very involved with the grant application process. She said the organization had to provide information on what they do and how the money would be used.

With the grant, Leg Up Farm will extend a summer program for York City students who have recently immigrated to the country, Hitz said. The nonprofit will partner with Lincoln Intermediate Unit to provide the program, which is called "Leading Change."

Leg Up Farm uses horses and ponies to do different group activities, Hitz said. The goal of the program, which will take place one night a week for 10 weeks over the summer, is to foster self-awareness and confidence.

Colleen Wisor Patterson, a student support specialist with the Lincoln Intermediate Unit Migrant Education Program, said she partnered with Hitz last year to pilot the program, which only lasted four weeks. Students who were a part of the Migrant Education Program meet throughout the week to work on language and other skills, and last year for the first time they were able to use one night a week to go to Leg Up Farm.

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"The students that went last year loved it," Wisor Patterson said. "They just had the best time."

Hitz said it was important to target middle school students who have recently come to the country because they are a group of children that is often bullied. She said research has shown fostering a sense of community among this group of children has long-term effects such as being invested in that community over time.

She also said programs that target these students have been linked to them staying in school and out of trouble.

"It's an opportunity to feel like they have a place, they have a community," Hitz said.

Wisor Patterson said the students gain an opportunity to expand on leadership skills and work with animals they might not be exposed to otherwise. Because many of the students in the Migrant Education Program are from the city, they don't often get out to the country to spend time with farm animals.

"It gets them out of the city, gets them involved in something new, and I hope that it might lead to sparking an interest in some kids in an area of study they hadn’t considered before," she said.

The $5,000 grant comes through the York College City Grant Program, which is funded by the College's Great to Greater grant program, according to the release. Great to Greater includes a number of grants that are used to foster the college's ties to the city of York.

Last year the grant went to the York County Literacy Council, according to the release.

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