Priscilla Lightsey, founder of HOPE, about the organization:
I founded HOPE in 2009 because I saw an opportunity to bring the benefits of Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies (EAAT) to people with special needs in China. In 2007, my husband’s work took my family and me from Austin, Texas, to Beijing. I am a physical therapist with a background in hippotherapy and a strong interest in working with children with special needs. Prior to our move, I was fortunate to work as a physical therapist at a remarkable facility that strives to improve independence and life skills in collaboration with horses. I have seen the amazing results EAAT offers for people with physical, cognitive, behavioral or emotional issues.
In Beijing, I continued my work in my field by volunteering at orphanages for children with disabilities. However, since EAAT services were not available in Beijing at that time, I decided to establish HOPE. I had two goals: to provide useful activities and therapies to the children in the orphanages where I worked, and to spread knowledge about EAAT across borders.
I am proud to say that HOPE has grown from a small one-horse operation to a dynamic organization based in Beijing and led by experienced Chinese staff and trainers. HOPE is a recognized non-governmental organization in the People’s Republic of China and a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit charity in the United States. HOPE offers EAAT courses in collaboration with children and adults from three orphanages, the Migrant Children Foundation, Beijing Municipality, and other provinces in China, as well as ex-patriates.