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CSA Finalist: Mason Sifford

Star volunteer with "Hearts &amp; Hooves" in Sherwood.<br>
This month's Community Service Award youth humanitarian finalist is Mason Sifford.

The 15-year-old sophomore honor student at Little Rock Central High School has combined his love of horses and his experience with a disabled brother in a mutually satisfying service experience.

He volunteers at "Hearts & Hooves", a non-profit equine therapy center in Sherwood.

It's a place where clients like Skyler Peterson, who has autism, can gain life-changing experience on horseback as mom Dee Peterson watches nearby.

"I used to ride. I rode for a few years. I thought it was really fun," says Mason. "And so the way I
got into it was because of my brother actually, because my brother is disabled too. My mother found this organization, I thought that's a great way to help, so I started here once a week because I love to work with horses."
   
"Mason really stood out to me because he's got a little something extra that he brings with him," says Liz Marg, Volunteer Coordinator with Hearts & Hooves. "He's got a background with people with disabilities and really I think has an understanding of that and the horse side of it."

"She's come out of her shell quite a bit," says Skyler's mom Dee. "We get more than just learning how to ride horses."
 
"I think it definitely allows them more social skills," Mason explains,"'cause it's an hour where you just get to relax and talk to someone, but aside from that it also helps them with their physical training like hand-to eye coordination."

"He has a kind of sense of knowing what to say and when to say it," says Liz. "And how much to help and how much to step back and let someone do it themselves."

An aspiring neurosurgeon, Mason will take a 4.0+ grade point average into his junior year at the Arkansas School for Math and Sciences next fall.

"At Central High I'm actually gonna run out of science after my junior year if I stay here, at least Advanced Placement sciences, so I decided I was gonna go there," Mason says. "Because I'm very interested in pursuing math and sciences, especially neuroscience."

"It's really hard to explain how much we get from this, and we can never thank him enough," says Dee.

If you would like to get involved with Hearts and Hooves as a volunteer, click here to visit their website.
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