Emily BerryCase Study, Disability, News

Washing Elvis

NRCF GRANT: $1,860 for First Aid Certificate Training for Volunteer Horse Riding Coaches

Established since 1979, this organization has just been voted one of the top seven charities in the Ballina district of charities worthy to be given funds. You can see why when you talk to Peta Best, the head riding coach.

“There is evidence in the 21st century that we just don’t understand the very meditative and calm way that horses communicate with another. There have been studies that have measured the heartbeat of the individual grooming the horse before and after just a simple 15 minutes session and the heartbeat and blood pressure of the groomer is very decreased, just after this simple contact.”

Peta is passionate about her work. Having been a specialised education teacher most of her life, working at the RDA combines her passion for teaching with her love of horses. Peta also works with many parents of children with special needs who are continually amazed at the healing power of the horse.

Meet Paula Kinsella, her daughter Penny and Elvis:

Penny and Elvis“My daughter Penny Newbold, who has been riding all her life, had a fall from a horse 6th May 2017, and despite wearing a helmet had severe TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). After six months in hospital riding was the only thing she wanted to do and this is where Riding For the Disabled (RDA) was fabulous offering her a safe place to help her recovery. After a TBI clinical depression is something the sufferers are constantly fighting and without RDA Penny would not be in the space she is now. It has also really helped with her memory which is still a major problem but having to learn and remember a dressage test has been invaluable to helping her brain recover. I would really like to thank the staff at RDA at Ballina who put hours of unpaid work into creating a safe place for people like my daughter.”

Parents and child at RDA Ballina

The Riding For the Disabled team in Ballina provide people with any disability (intellectual, physical or mental) to work with the horses on the ground or learn horsemanship skills, helping disabled people with their experiential learning and emotional well being.

There is a great deal of feedback to say their work has a massive impact, which explains why many parents are bringing their children to RDA for most of their lives. Peta explains “It’s empowering. Many parents tell us once their children have been here doing their work with the horses, this empowering feeling continues throughout their day, well after the session.”

Fast facts:
– RDA services the disabled populations of Ballina (2,274), Lismore (2,422) and Byron Bay (1,316).
– The rate of developmental vulnerability for children’s physical health and wellbeing, is estimated at 9.6% for the Northern Rivers compared to 8.3% for NSW.
– This is highest in the Lismore LGA (13.5%), where there are also the highest vulnerability rates for social competence (12.1%) and communication skills and general knowledge (10.7%).

The grant from NRCF helped train eight coaches in essential First Aid – both vital and necessary for the centre to continue its good work. Thank you to the RDA for their amazing work, and here is to many more years of the special bond between humans and horses.

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