THE RDA (Riding for the Disabled Association) Barwon has embraced the therapeutic benefits of horses for more than 40 years, giving children with a diverse range of disabilities the opportunity to ride.
Volunteer manager Helen Buckley said this year’s Wallington-based program was just around the corner and they’re on the lookout for more volunteers, with a love of children the only prerequisite.
“The RDA Barwon program is completely volunteer-based, so the call is out for more volunteers.
“There will be a volunteer training morning held at Koombahla Park Equestrian Centre at 9.45am on February 21. All are welcome – a horse background is not necessary, simply liking children is enough.”
Core strength, muscle tone, balance, cognitive and speech development and social interaction are all part of the experience, with a focus on
“RDA Barwon offers 40 disabled young people the chance to learn to ride and care for a horse. The relationship that develops between the horse and rider increases the child’s self-confidence and resilience,” Ms Buckley said.
A lesson usually involves riding challenges, basic dressage, grooming, horseback games and sometimes concludes with a short trail ride.
“The program runs during the school term, four terms a year. We don’t start working with students until later in the first term. We have three sessions over a week,” Ms Buckley said.
“They are one hourly sessions with volunteers needed two or three hours a week depending upon their commitments. The program is generally for primary and secondary aged children.”
Ms Buckley has been involved with the program now for six years, and during that time has seen many volunteers come and go.
“We put the call out every two to three years. Circumstances can often change, some of our members get older and they can’t anymore. Others have family commitments with grandkids.
“We’d like to get as many as 12 new members each year. It’s a fantastic way for people to meet new people, to enjoy working alongside children and horses. It’s also a fabulous feeling to give back to the community.”
To become an RDA volunteer you need a Working with Children Check. For more information and to register your interest, email [email protected]