Impact week is based on making positive contributions to our community. This year, eight students with a passion for horses chose to volunteer at the Riding for the Disabled (RDA) centre opposite the School. Holly Greening, Priya Hodges, Hannah Kerr, Holly Kerr, Sarah Offer, Indi-Allen Phelps, Mia Rothstein and Sophie Summers share their experiences:
There were so many things that we thought were amazing and inspirational about RDA. For one, everyone who works there is a volunteer and does their job out of kindness and love, devoting hours, days, weeks, and years to help those with disabilities to feel happy and achieve their own goals, all because of the amazing volunteers and horses at RDA.
Another thing we noticed was that every time a new person came to ride a horse they would often feel anxious, angry, confused or scared. However, as soon as they were welcomed by the super-hero-staff and got on the horse and started their activities, they became happy and lively. It was amazing and so inspirational to see the sudden change and made us realise how helpful and important RDA is to the disabled community.
Some of the disabled people were unable to walk due to their disability and had to get on the horse by a ramp. People in wheelchairs can have their chair wheeled up and, if the person was not able to lift themselves out of their wheelchair and onto the horse, a hoist was used to lift them onto the horses back. These horses have been specially trained to accept riders from the hoist. The horses at RDA are selected and trained very carefully to be used for their specific purposes.
Part of our experience was to watch how they desensitised horses to make them bombproof, which means they are relaxed around sudden noises and movements. It was really inspiring to visit RDA. A huge thank you to the amazing staff who managed to fit us in and allow us to be around the horses that remained so relaxed, even with a bunch of new people buzzing around them!