RARITAN TWP., N.J. — Team Velvet Inc., an equine assisted mental health charity for children, announces its Horses of Happiness online fundraiser photo contest. Horse lovers and owners alike will have the opportunity to share their special photos of horses (donkeys and mules welcome, too!) and stories of how equines make them happy.

Entries will be accepted through May 15 after which members of the public can vote for their favorites. The entry fee is $5 per photo and each $1 donation equals one vote.

To enter the contest, go to https://www.gogophotocontest.com/teamvelvet and help Team Velvet Inc. without leaving home.

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All funds from the contest go to support the free professional services provided by Team Velvet Inc. to traumatized children ages 5-12.

In the program, therapy horses Velvet, Precious and Little Annie partner with psychologist

Dr. Susan Edwards to provide non-mounted horse therapy and increase resiliency in children who have experienced profound loss (death of a loved one, disfigurement by an accident, witnessing or being victimized by violence). If left unaddressed, child trauma may cause flashbacks and severe psychological damage.

In this nonmounted therapy children do not ride the horses but may participate in interactive games (like kick a soccer ball) while working toward treatment goals like increased self-confidence or emotional healing after traumatic loss. The natural ability of horses to elicit joy and positive feelings will be illustrated in varied ways within the Horses of Happiness photo entries.

Earlier in the year Team Velvet began expanding its educational efforts beyond the local farm by publishing a coloring book for children who lost a father called Santa Claus Visits Heaven; a picture book for 4-6 year-olds on the value of their own loving hearts [Wonder Horse: The Birthday] and a paperback book of photos on mental health therapy for children called Helping Horse Farm. New website projects include a virtual farm tour and an (in-process) set of horse-assisted short videos to help kids cope with some of the stress associated with COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our horses work in the arena of a child’s heart,” said psychologist/director Dr. Susan Edwards. “Print and video media make that arena larger.” For more information see www.teamvelvet.com or call Dr. Edwards at 609-924-4330 to refer a child. Team Velvet, Inc., an all-volunteer organization totally funded by grants and donations, continues to seek a program benefactor for increased sustainability.