GOVERNOR ROMNEY APPROVES LONG-TERM LEASE FOR TEWKSBURY STATE HOSPITAL EQUINE THERAPEUTIC PROGRAM
Governor Mitt Romney today signed legislation authorizing a 99-year lease between the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Tewksbury Hospital Equestrian Farm (T.H.E. FARM), a non-profit organization that operates public equine therapeutic programs. Equine therapy helps individuals with physical or mental disabilities to improve their muscle tone, balance and coordination, and offers participants a sense of independence they may not experience in other parts of their lives.
The Governor signed the legislation in his State House office where he was joined by his wife, First Lady Ann Romney, the bill's legislative sponsors and members of T.H.E. FARM staff and board.
"I know very well from Ann the therapeutic effect that a love of horses can make in the life of someone who faces a physical or mental illness," said Governor Romney. "I am proud to approve this bill, which will give the T.H.E. FARM the stability it needs to continue its invaluable work well into the future."
"Equine therapy can unlock a range of positive emotional and physical changes in those who pursue it," said Mrs. Romney. "T.H.E. FARM already provides wonderful support to many who suffer - this change will allow this great institution to put down even deeper roots in the community and expand its reach even farther to those in need."
T.H.E. FARM had been operating under a five-year lease that was set to expire at the end of 2006. The legislation the Governor approved today extends the lease for 99 years, giving T.H.E. FARM the permanency it needs to pursue a range of improvements and program expansions.
"This legislation gives the farm the opportunity to provide therapeutic equine programs year round to individuals of all abilities, most especially to the clients at Tewksbury Hospital," said Mary Jane Marcucci, president of the T.H.E. FARM. "We are grateful to the Governor and the First Lady for their efforts in furthering the benefits of equine therapy and making it more accessible to those who are less fortunate. Thank you also to the many volunteers, instructors, staff and supporters who have brought T.H.E. FARM to this point."
With a long-term lease now in hand, T.H.E. FARM plans to raise private funds to build an indoor equine therapeutic center on the campus to allow clients the benefit of therapy all year round.
"We worked hard to bring this bill to fruition," said the bill's co-sponsor, Representative Jim Miceli. "This worthwhile endeavor, initiated by a group of interested citizens, and the rehabilitation program that will be offered to patients at Tewksbury Hospital is a critical part of the hospital's progressive program."