A Volunteers Story
If you have ever wondered what the impact of volunteering can have and what a difference you can make, read Karen’s story. Karen has only been volunteering with us for a short time, but the impact she has seen for herself is immense, this is her story.
I have just started volunteering at the Friday “Sensory afternoon” classes, helping with a small group of primary school aged children. I have helped the children with grooming the ponies and with stable duties such as “mucking out”, and then helped with leading and side walking when the children progressed to riding the ponies.
Although I have no specialist knowledge of child behaviour, I have practical experience of raising children as I am a mother and grandmother. During the two sessions when I have helped, I have seen a remarkable and noticeably positive change in the behaviour of this group of children .
I have witnessed the very quiet children gain confidence and self esteem, through their interaction with the ponies; whilst the unruly and boisterous children have given the ponies respect, care and tenderness at the same time as also gaining self confidence. Today the progress that the children made was significant, because by the end of the session every child in the group rode a pony, with some riding off the leading rein. In order to achieve this riding skill, they listened to instructions and participated in team work and took a level of responsibility for the pony’s behaviour. All of this positive behaviour and outcome was particularly remarkable, given the limited time that the children attended the sessions at the RDA.
I have only been a volunteer helper at Cotswold RDA for a few months and in that short time, I have found that the work which the RDA undertakes is inspirational in helping disabled people enjoy and participate in riding. However I consider that the Friday afternoon sensory sessions with children are of equal importance in helping these children.
I hope that my observations as a volunteer will inspire others to understand how valuable the work is.Karen Radford