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NEWS

June 4 , 2008

RSU Names Director for Bit by Bit Therapeutic Horseback Riding Program

Dr. Velinda Baker, an exercise sports science professor and former public school teacher, has been named director of the Bit by Bit program at Rogers State University.

Dr. Baker recently completed her fourth year as an assistant professor at the University of Tulsa. Previously she spent more than 18 years teaching physical education to public school students in Oklahoma and Texas. She has more than 14 years of experience working with students with special needs.

In addition to teaching, Baker has worked for the Oklahoma Department of Education as the state coordinator of physical education and served as the director of education resources for the United States Olympic Committee. Dr. Baker has worked as a volunteer for the Bit by Bit program for the past year, manages her own ranch and owns quarter horses.

“I have two passions: teaching children and working with horses. This job is a combination of both,” Baker said.

Bit by Bit is a cooperative program between RSU and Oologah-Talala Public Schools to promote physical and mental health for children and adults with disabilities through horseback riding. One of 12 certified equine therapy centers in the state, Bit By Bit is the state’s only certified program directly affiliated with a university.

 The highly-regarded program provides therapeutic riding and ground work sessions between the riders and horses.

The interaction improves balance, flexibility, strength, walking, language and cognitive skills for participating clients. The program serves more than 60 children and adults and has 40 students on a waiting list for its services. During its history, the program has served more than 1,000 children and adults across Oklahoma.

Dr. Baker said she is looking forward to working with the “excellent staff, students and volunteers at Bit by Bit.”

She said the staff plans to expand the classes offered to include additional equestrian skills for students.

Baker earned a Doctor of Applied Educational Studies from Oklahoma State University.