A William Woods University program that aims to teach youngsters responsibility through the care and riding of horses is the 2005 winner of the Martin Luther King Commission Award in the organization category.
C.I.R.C.L.E.S. won as an organization emulating the ideals and values of Martin Luther King. As one of his first official acts, Gov. Matt Blunt presented the award Wednesday to program director Linda McClaren and C.I.R.C.L.E.S. participant Mario Lawson. The event was sponsored by the Central Missouri Committee of the State Celebration Commission.
Organized by the faculty and students of the university’s equestrian studies division, C.I.R.C.L.E.S. stands for Community Inner Reach: Children Learning Equestrian Skills. Since its beginning in 2000, the program has provided more than 100 at-risk children (primarily fifth graders) from the Fulton community the opportunity to ride and take care of horses.
The goal is for them to discover how fun learning can be, and to learn marketable skills, along with an improved sense of responsibility and self esteem. The program is structured to benefit the students by increasing their self-confidence, by developing their acceptance of responsibility, by improving their communication skills, and by involving the students in a positive educational experience.