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A WGVU initiative in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation using on-air programs and community events to explore issues of inclusion and equity.

Equine Assisted Development of the Great Lakes Moves into the City

Noel Stojkov

Deb and Butch VanderBand decided to bring Equine Assisted Development of the Great Lakes or EAD, right into the heart of metro Grand Rapids.

But to do that they had to buy a distinctive piece of real estate.

"It’s twenty-two acres and has an indoor arena, pasture space, stables, it has a very, very large home on it."

Situated on the southeast corner of 32nd and Shaffer, the property used to house cheetahs and zebras - among other exotic animals, before it was effectively abandoned.

"We are restoring it to its original glory. Every day is a new step in restoring it, it’s like a rebuild."

If you’re wondering why it’s equine and not equestrian development, like I was, it’s because the exercises don’t include riding.

"It can be as simple as having four different horses in the arena, and we give a person the task to catch a horse and bring it back to us."

The VanderBands are working on restorations now and are issuing a call for volunteers and supporters to help them get ready for their May 14th grand opening.

Those interested can visit them at www.eadgl.org.

Credit Mariano Avila
Butch VanderBand (left) and Deb VanderBand (right) poses in front of the house on the property.

Mariano Avila is WGVU's inclusion reporter. He has made a career of bringing voices from the margins to those who need to hear them. Over the course of his career, Mariano has written for major papers in English and Spanish, published in magazines, worked in broadcast, and produced short films, commercials, and nonprofit campaigns. He also briefly served at a foreign consulate, organized for international human rights efforts and has done considerable work connecting marginalized people to religious, educational, and nonprofit institutions through the power of story.
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