Riding taste of freedom for disabled kids

Charity set to get another pony with help from airport's $10,000 Christmas gift.

Children such as Jordan, who has cerebral palsy, enjoy their time riding. He is helped by Alison Green (left), Alison Daldy and Molly Green. Photo / Greg Bowker
Children such as Jordan, who has cerebral palsy, enjoy their time riding. He is helped by Alison Green (left), Alison Daldy and Molly Green. Photo / Greg Bowker

For a young person, a disability can be restricting and confining.

But one organisation is helping to give youngsters a sense of freedom - on horseback.

The South Auckland branch of the Riding for the Disabled charity has been awarded $10,000 in this year's Auckland Airport 12 days of Christmas giveaway.

The money will fund a new pony to add to its small herd of horses and help with the upkeep of the animals.

Every week, groups of children who suffer from a variety of disabilities travel to a farm in Drury where they get to take part in therapeutic horse riding and horse-related activities.

The children are supervised by a group of volunteers and spend between half an hour and 45 minutes on a horse.

Volunteer co-ordinator Alison Daldy said the work they did with children was hugely fulfilling for staff.

"We have children with intellectual, physical and emotional disabilities. We have kids who have severe autism and children who have absolutely no strength in their body.

"The time they spend with the horse is their time and it's very special for both the child and the parent - but also the volunteers."

Mrs Daldy said horse riding helped to improve core strength, balance and co-ordination. But it also benefited children in a much bigger way.

"The smiles. We get big smiles when they come here. It brings them a sense of freedom and they tend to look at the world differently because they're higher up. You see a whole different side of these kids once they're on a horse."

The children who are enrolled in the programme come from various special schools around Auckland and are aged between 5 and 10.

The 12 days of Christmas initiative has been running for the past six years. This year, the $120,000 was raised by Auckland Airport as well as money donated by members of the travelling public.

The airport's general manager corporate affairs, Charles Spillane, said helping charities such as Riding for the Disabled was a privilege as they were providing good service to the community.

"South Auckland Riding for the Disabled performs a wonderful service for children with disabilities and this new pony is going to allow even more children to benefit from their inspirational work."

Auckland Airport is giving away $120,000 to NZ charities as part of its 12 Days of Christmas initiative this year. The Herald is profiling each of the winning charities.

- NZ Herald

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