A Helping Hand

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Marge Cheesman

Director Dynamic Strides

Impacting Our Economy

Impacting Our Economy

(Read the entire report)

  • Over their working lifetimes, associate degree grads in the OTC service area earn

    $381,300

    more than someone with a high school diploma

  • $168.6 million

    Amount OTC alumni contribute in added income to the region every year

  • $211.8 million

    OTC's yearly total economic impact on the College's service region

  • College operations generate

    $31.6 million

    in net added income to the community

  • Higher student income and associated effects on business productivity add

    $58,400,000

    annually to the state's economy

  • OTC students save Missouri

    $2.9 million

    per year from improved lifestyle behaviors and reduced welfare costs

Marge Cheesman had always been in love with horses, but she worked in the medical field as part of a hospital clerical staff and as an EMT.

But several years ago, Marge was able to combine the two interests, thanks to a degree in occupational therapy (OT) from Ozarks Technical Community College in 2008.

Today, Marge is the director of Dynamic Strides in Republic, which uses horses to provide physical therapy and hippotherapy to clients, most of them children who suffer from various maladies, including cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism and multiple sclerosis.

Established in June, 2010, Dynamic Strides Therapeutic Riding is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit agency which  dedicates itself to serving the community and offer our services regardless of the client's ability to pay.  The program is run solely by donations.

At Dynamic Strides, specially trained physical, occupational and speech therapists,  Spirit Horse and NARHA certified riding instructors, dozens of volunteers, and the program horses come together to form therapy teams. These teams work together to provide the highest quality equine-assisted therapy to clients in a relaxed, fun atmosphere.

The freedom and independence clients experience through the programs act as a bridge to accomplishment, leading to success in other areas of their lives.

With hippotherapy, therapists work one-on-one with riders to use the motion of a moving horse to provide therapy.

By trying to maintain balance in response to a horse's motion, the rider tones, stretches and strengthens the same muscle groups that would be used in walking, sitting and reaching on their own. This improves balance, coordination, core strength, muscle tone and flexibility.

"I couldn't be doing what I do now without OTC. The OT program was outstanding. I expect to return to OTC and take some more prerequisite classes to earn a master's degree later," she said.

Marge is one of hundreds of OTC graduates who have used their degree to start their own business, something a recent economic impact report said OTC graduates are doing more and more to help the region's economy.

"I love the work," Marge said. "This is always something I wanted to do. The satisfaction I get is in the end result. I can't explain it. You have to see it to believe it."

"An estimated 90 percent of OTC students remain in the College's service region and contribute to economic growth by joining the workforce or starting their own business."