Life-transforming work with the most vulnerable youth, Creating peaceful leaders.

The purpose of Lead-Up International is to reduce violence in the community by creating peaceful leaders – men and women – utilizing equine-assisted therapy and non-verbal communication. We teach vulnerable youth about the power of non-violence, trust-based relationships and peaceful leadership.

Core objectives include:

  • Improve participants’ emotional regulation
  • Develop peaceful leadership skills in each participant
  • Improve participants’ self-esteem

Lead Up Internatoinal

Human Animal Interaction Bulletin published a study in 2015 (“Before, he fought every day with the horse and with me”: Reducing Violence in a Guatemalan Community through a Horse-Handling Program, 2015, Vol. 3, No. 2, 37-55) by Dr. Judith Gibbons, Katie Cunningham, Leslie Paiz, Katelyn E. Poelker and Marco Antonio Montufar Cardenas with scientific evidence of reduced violence and abuse toward horses and people because of the Lead-Up program.

Another study, published in 2016 shows evidence of effectiveness in reducing aggressive behavior. Lead-Up successfully fostered empowered leadership among at-risk youth in Guatemala. The program can provide tools for youth to address the many problems that they face. Those tools may not only promote success for the individual participants, but also for their family members, classmates, and Guatemalan society at large. (‘Now, he will be the leader of the house’: An equine intervention with at-risk Guatemalan youth’. Gibbons, Cunningham, Paiz, Poelker, Chajón, 2016).

The full study can be accessed at www.tandfonline.com.

Why is Lead-Up necessary?

According to World Health Organization, an estimated 200,000 homicides occur each year worldwide among youth and young adults aged 10-29 years, making homicide the fourth leading cause of death in this age group. Eighty three percent of homicide victims in this age group are male, and nearly all of these deaths occur in low-income and middle-income countries. For each young person killed, many more sustain injuries requiring hospital treatment. Beyond deaths and injuries, youth violence can lead to mental health problems and increased health-risk behaviors, such as smoking, alcohol and drug use, and unsafe sex. Youth violence results in greatly increased health, welfare and criminal justice costs; reduces productivity; decreases the value of property in areas where it occurs; and generally undermines the fabric of society. (For more information and statistics click here)