Ever since I first became a PATH Intl. member in 1999, I have heard other members talk about how they would really like their PATH Intl. credential or center accreditation "to mean something." For many years, I found myself echoing that opinion, wanting the PATH Intl. credentials and accreditation to be "recognized." Determining what those sentiments actually meant was an important part of the previous strategic planning process. The consensus was that members wanted PATH Intl. to be recognized as a global resource for EAAT as well as recognized for the standards that support the safety and quality of the services the centers and professionals provide. To do that, we embarked on
3rd party accreditation
for our registered level instructor certification, increased our focus on quality assurance - including a
- grew our partnership circle to include international human/animal interaction organizations, focused the region representatives on outreach, and concentrated on a marketing/pr campaign that brought recognition to PATH Intl. credentials and accreditation to the audience of
special education teachers
Gaining this recognition and building our brand seems to be working. In the past six months, I have been invited to three international conferences/ meetings to represent PATH Intl. and discuss our standards and credentials and how PATH Intl. works. In addition, when the Bob Woodruff Foundation was looking for an organization to collaborate with to help produce a convening to discuss EAAT and veterans, they reached out to PATH Intl. Both the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and Wounded Warrior Project (we are in discussions with them again) have recognized the association by choosing to partner to provide funding to PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Centers for veterans' services. And most recently, staff has fielded multiple phone calls from organizations wanting to assist therapeutic riding centers in the wake of Hurricane Harvey who recognized our organization as a main point of contact for centers. Some of the "backhanded" ways we are also being recognized is the increase in instances where someone has used the PATH Intl. name and logo to fraudulently raise money, and we have been approached from a legal perspective to help shut them down, and the increase in grievances filed against members not upholding the association's standards or code of ethics and other members recognizing the importance of protecting the PATH Intl. name, credentials and accreditation - because it does mean something.
When I visited Riding for the Disabled, UK (RDA - UK), I was struck by how many of their centers have RDA-UK as part of their name. Not because they are a subsidiary of RDA-UK, but because they are that proud to be a part of them and they see that utilizing their name and logo brings them additional credibility. This is my wish as the association continues to move forward, that every center, every PATH Intl. credentialed professional proudly displays the PATH Intl. name and logo. Because it does mean something. It means that you are following a set of standards and a code of ethics that have been developed to ensure the safety and optimal outcomes for your participants. Every member who proudly displays the name, credential or logo is helping to raise awareness about the importance of credentials and accreditation from PATH Intl. Together, we can build the understanding that a PATH Intl. credentialed professional or center is the place to take your family member, your friend or yourself for the safest and best outcome.
All the best,