- Modern Australian Agriculture
Griffith-Leeton Riding for the Disabled; building skills and confidence in those who need it most
Wednesday 4th July 2018
The Griffith-Leeton Riding for the Disabled (RDA) Centre provides crucial support to children and their families. The Centre offers a unique opportunity in the region for children with physical disabilities, as well as down syndrome, anxiety, epilepsy and autism to enhance balance, posture, eye-hand coordination and general motor skills as well as gain confidence and social skills.
The Griffith-Leeton RDA was established in 1987 and currently serves 60 riders with the help of over 30 volunteers including local high school students. For over 30 years they have successfully assisted in the development of important skills and providing a place for building friendships. For the staff and volunteers who teach and work at the centre, the joy is in seeing the children’s eyes light up when they see their equine friends and enter a place where they can move with ease, feeling safe and secure.
Therapeutic horseback riding programs have been in Australia for decades. Many teachers and parents say that interactions with the horses, and the act of riding, provides vast opportunities; assisting with children’s physical, cognitive and emotional growth. Julie Groat, President of the Griffith-Leeton RDA says “I have seen children make dramatic improvements in their physical capacity which really helps to build personal confidence, self-esteem and communication skills. Not only does the movement of the horse work to improve muscle connectivity but the friendships our children and horses develop is amazing.”
The not-for-profit centre operates during school terms and will work with children and their families to develop an individual program which can often lead to riders being able to ride independently and some students may go to competition level.
The Aussie Cotton Farmers Grow Communities is a grants program initiated by the Monsanto Fund in partnership with the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal. It aims to support local communities in cotton growing regions. The program encourages farmers to nominate a community group or not-for-profit organization to receive one of thirty $5,000 grants available per year. Patrick Sergi nominated the Griffith-Leeton Riding for the Disabled Centre and Julie says that the grant will enable the organisation to purchase equipment allowing more individuals to become involved.
“Receiving this grant is a great opportunity for us to increase our ability to cater to more children, some of whom have previously missed out on joining our program. We will purchase specialised saddles that provide wheelchair bound children with the proper balance and stability they require.”
“Special ball reins are required to enable children to keep their hands in the correct position to ensure they have sufficient control of the horse at all times. Providing the best experience possible for children is important to us and it’s why we offer free lessons for children. These ball reins will play an important part in us providing this service to children, improving their posture and confidence.
Monsanto Fund representative in Australia Jessica Douglas said “Monsanto is thrilled to support the Griffith-Leeton RDA to provide children with the opportunity to not only join the program, but to join their local horse riding community and to develop their confidence and capacity.”
For more information on the Griffith Leeton Riding for the Disabled Association click here.