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History

WHO WE ARE
Rich in history, The Bridge Center was founded in 1963 by the Knights of Pythias under the name Handi-Kids. A non-profit, tax-exempt organization, The Bridge Center and its founders have a collective vision to be a leader within the recreation community serving as a resource for community members with disabilities and their families alike. The Bridge Center has achieved many exciting milestones over the course of the last 50 years:

1975-Procured 20 acres of land and began a summer day camp for children with disabilities.

1982- Built a wheelchair-accessible swimming pool and bath house that is now home to our adaptive swimming lesson and seasonal water play.

1985- Started a therapeutic horseback riding program. Today, The Bridge Center offers Therapeutic Riding, Carriage Driving, Hippotherapy, veterans programs, and unmounted horsemanship programs.

1995- Constructed a second building on the property to house an open recreation space, dance room, and sensory spaces. This space is now home to our indoor sports programs, karate, sensory area, and basketball court.

2002- Opened a state-of-the-art indoor riding arena, The Polishook Riding Center, expanding the therapeutic riding program to year-round operation. The Polishook Riding Center is a PATH Certified Riding Center, one of the only barns with this certification on the South Shore.

2007- Hosted the grand opening of the Leonard Rudofsky Center, a multi-purpose building designed to provide art classes, music classes, performance space, and vocational training opportunities. “Lenny’s” is home to many weekend programs, our nurses’ station, and The Great Space, a multi-purpose room used for professional development opportunities, special events, and staff trainings.

2009- The Bridge Center name was born to symbolize a place that Builds Resilience and Independence for people with Disabilities through Growth and Empowerment. For many, The Bridge Center successfully bridges the gap between disability, recreation, and animals.

2014 - Installed a fully accessible playground for kids young and old to enjoy while on campus!

Beginning with 30 children during its first summer camp, The Bridge Center now operates on a year-round basis providing therapeutic recreation and equine-assisted therapy programs to more than 1,000 children, teens and adults with a wide range of disabilities. Continuing with the Knights of Pythias’ mission of philanthropy, The Bridge Center offers scholarship assistance to qualified families. We strive to ensure that no family is turned away, and rely on the generosity of corporations, foundations and private donations to support our scholarship assistance program.
The Bridge Center's Riding Center is a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center. PATH Intl. Certified Instructors teach and oversee all therapeutic lessons and other equine-assisted activities. “PATH Intl. Certified Instructors use these equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) to help tens of thousands of individuals each year with physical, mental and behavioral challenges gain strength and independence through the power of the horse. EAAT helps people from all backgrounds and all walks of life in a variety of ways, including increasing strength and flexibility, improving motor skills, promoting speech and cognitive reasoning, and building relationships and social skills. The individuals served by PATH Intl. members may face any number of challenges, including paralysis, multiple sclerosis, autism, Down syndrome, substance abuse, traumatic brain injury or amputation – but all benefit from the power of the horse."
- - Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship