Rock Bridge senior Timofey Kolenikov has wide-ranging talents and interests, from classical piano to math. He isn’t set on a career trajectory just yet, but knows the time he has spent as a volunteer at Cedar Creek Therapeutic Riding Center will inform his attitude toward others forever.
In the fall of 2015, Timofey’s younger brother, Teddy, who has Down’s syndrome, began therapy at Cedar Creek. Cedar Creek is a non-profit volunteer organization that provides equine activities to people with a broad range of physical and mental disabilities. Soon Timofey was a “sidewalker” – someone who walks alongside the horse and rider, holding the rider’s hip for stability and safety.
“The movement of the horse closely mimics the gait of a human, and helps work core muscles that are otherwise unused,” Timofey wrote in his essay. “We also do a variety of exercises to help develop motor skills, and help riders gain confidence they may not get anywhere else. I also make sure to talk and socialize with the riders, helping them gain confidence in a social setting.”
Timofey was so gratified with his experiences at Cedar Creek that he decided to enlist other Rock Bridge students as volunteers. Cedar Creek is one of several nonprofits that benefit from Rock Bridge Reaches Out, a student organization that enlists volunteers to work in the community for the benefit of others. “I recruit members in the beginning of the school year to ensure that there is a sufficient number of volunteers serving at Cedar Creek. Once the therapeutic sessions at Cedar Creek begin, I maintain stable attendance and provide assistance with any concerns the volunteers might have.”
The volunteer activity meshes well with Timofey’s other extracurricular activities, including Mu Alpha Theta, an invitation-only math honors society that organizes math competitions for elementary age grades around Columbia, and playing the piano.
After graduation, Timofey hopes to attain an undergraduate degree either in economics or political science from Washington University. A career in a think tank or as an independent consultant may also be in Timofey’s future.
Whatever he does, he will treat other people with respect as a result of his experience helping those with physical or mental challenges. “I’ve learned that disabilities strike people of all racial groups and social classes. I’ve come to respect all of their individual personalities. And finally, I’ve come to realize that society must protect all of its weaker members, because every member of society deserves to be happy.”
Timofey is the son of Stanislav Kolenikov and Oksana Loginova of Columbia.