I volunteered as a horse handler at a therapy centre for quite a while. One kid I will always remember, whom I knew slightly before he came to the centre...I think he may have had autism or something of the sort, but his parents and anyone else for that matter could not connect with him at all. He was so withdrawn into himself he was in a nearly catatonic state. After a year and a half of having regular sessions with us, he began opening up. When he was on a horse, it was like he was a totally different person. He would follow instructions, talk a little, even smile! A kid who'd normally do very little and have zero interest in just about anything in life grew into someone who would spend all day grooming his horse if he could. It was amazing. And the sessions carried over into his home life...last time I spoke with his mother she was almost in tears about the huge positive change in her son's behaviour.
Yeah, I was doing it for the horses. But there were a few other similar stories and looking back, I wouldn't have given up that time for anything. Anyone who has the time to do so should definitely look into volunteering.