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Highway to cut right through horse centre for troubled P.E.I. youth

Rowdy, a quarter horse at the Hughes-Jones Centre for People and Animals, gets some attention from, Marie-Soleil Gaudreau, from left, Olivia and Leah MacPhail during Sunday’s Open Farm Day on P.E.I. Rowdy is one of 16 horses at the centre used to not only teach riding, but also life lessons such as leadership and respect.
Rowdy, a quarter horse at the Hughes-Jones Centre for People and Animals, gets some attention from, Marie-Soleil Gaudreau, from left, Olivia and Leah MacPhail during Sunday’s Open Farm Day on P.E.I. Rowdy is one of 16 horses at the centre used to not only teach riding, but also life lessons such as leadership and respect.

Crowds pack Hughes-Jones Centre for Animals during final Open Farm Day in current location

During the past eight years, Ellen Jones has seen her personal dream create a ripple effect of positivity in the greater community.

During that time, the Hughes-Jones Centre for People and Animals has gone from construction to now housing 16 quarter horses that are used to help individuals with anxiety and at-risk youth by teaching them to care for the animals.

The community’s support of the centre was clear on Sunday when well over 400 individuals passed through the unique operation as part of Open Farm Day on P.E.I.

For many, it was the final look inside before a planned highway bypass is constructed at the location.

Jones is keeping an upbeat attitude, despite the looming end of the centre in its current location.

“We’ve had kind of a ripple effect with people coming around and supporting it. It’s what we always wanted this place to be, kind of a community centre where people are joined by a similar passion,” said Jones, who hopes to re-build to keep serving her clients. “It feels wonderful and we’re staying grounded in reality, but as long as we keep that positive vibe, the potential could be wonderful.”

The province told Jones about two weeks ago that the Cornwall bypass will be going through her property, although negotiations for the land have yet to start.

Realistically, it’s a better situation than having the highway running next to the property, which is what Jones originally feared.

“Then you’re losing your property value and you’re losing the quiet rural environment,” she said. “With the kids, especially ones who have anxiety disorders, a four-lane highway next to them is not going to be beneficial.”

The therapeutic benefits of riding and caring for horses were explained to visitors at the centre on Sunday.

Members of Island EMS were also at the location, doing demonstrations of hands-only CPR. Heart and Stroke Foundation representatives were also taking blood pressure levels and serving a “heart healthy” soup created from ingredients in the centre’s community garden.

“It’s all kind of connected. It’s great because horseback riding is a heart healthy activity so we all complement each other,” said Jones. “We love healthy living and getting more kids to know where their food comes from is important.”

Highlighting P.E.I. agriculture was one of the goals for Open Farm Day, which saw thirty operations across the province allow access to visitors.

For Helen Smith-MacPhail, the centre was just one stop along the route before heading to a dairy farm on the province’s north shore.

“We usually go to two or three (farms). It’s nice to be able to see what actually goes on inside,” said Smith-MacPhail, who was with her daughters Olivia and Leah.

The Meadowbank family also had Quebec exchange student Marie-Soleil Gaudreau with them.

“We’re taking her around to show her a bit of the Island’s culture,” said Olivia.

Hundreds also signed a poster at the centre pledging to visit a new location once it opens.

Although nothing is in stone, Jones said the ideal situation would be to secure land over the winter somewhere close to the current location.

Hopefully, it would also see a grand opening for next year’s Open Farm Day.

“We feel like we benefit the community. We try really hard to work for the people of Cornwall and greater Charlottetown area so we just want the opportunity to continue being able to do this,” said Jones. “We have a responsibility to them and, the fight that we have ahead of us, this is why we’re doing it. We want the kids to be able to have this place.”

mitch.macdonald@tc.tc

Twitter.com/Mitch_PEI

During the past eight years, Ellen Jones has seen her personal dream create a ripple effect of positivity in the greater community.

During that time, the Hughes-Jones Centre for People and Animals has gone from construction to now housing 16 quarter horses that are used to help individuals with anxiety and at-risk youth by teaching them to care for the animals.

The community’s support of the centre was clear on Sunday when well over 400 individuals passed through the unique operation as part of Open Farm Day on P.E.I.

For many, it was the final look inside before a planned highway bypass is constructed at the location.

Jones is keeping an upbeat attitude, despite the looming end of the centre in its current location.

“We’ve had kind of a ripple effect with people coming around and supporting it. It’s what we always wanted this place to be, kind of a community centre where people are joined by a similar passion,” said Jones, who hopes to re-build to keep serving her clients. “It feels wonderful and we’re staying grounded in reality, but as long as we keep that positive vibe, the potential could be wonderful.”

The province told Jones about two weeks ago that the Cornwall bypass will be going through her property, although negotiations for the land have yet to start.

Realistically, it’s a better situation than having the highway running next to the property, which is what Jones originally feared.

“Then you’re losing your property value and you’re losing the quiet rural environment,” she said. “With the kids, especially ones who have anxiety disorders, a four-lane highway next to them is not going to be beneficial.”

The therapeutic benefits of riding and caring for horses were explained to visitors at the centre on Sunday.

Members of Island EMS were also at the location, doing demonstrations of hands-only CPR. Heart and Stroke Foundation representatives were also taking blood pressure levels and serving a “heart healthy” soup created from ingredients in the centre’s community garden.

“It’s all kind of connected. It’s great because horseback riding is a heart healthy activity so we all complement each other,” said Jones. “We love healthy living and getting more kids to know where their food comes from is important.”

Highlighting P.E.I. agriculture was one of the goals for Open Farm Day, which saw thirty operations across the province allow access to visitors.

For Helen Smith-MacPhail, the centre was just one stop along the route before heading to a dairy farm on the province’s north shore.

“We usually go to two or three (farms). It’s nice to be able to see what actually goes on inside,” said Smith-MacPhail, who was with her daughters Olivia and Leah.

The Meadowbank family also had Quebec exchange student Marie-Soleil Gaudreau with them.

“We’re taking her around to show her a bit of the Island’s culture,” said Olivia.

Hundreds also signed a poster at the centre pledging to visit a new location once it opens.

Although nothing is in stone, Jones said the ideal situation would be to secure land over the winter somewhere close to the current location.

Hopefully, it would also see a grand opening for next year’s Open Farm Day.

“We feel like we benefit the community. We try really hard to work for the people of Cornwall and greater Charlottetown area so we just want the opportunity to continue being able to do this,” said Jones. “We have a responsibility to them and, the fight that we have ahead of us, this is why we’re doing it. We want the kids to be able to have this place.”

mitch.macdonald@tc.tc

Twitter.com/Mitch_PEI

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