One Tree Point School, Northland

Four special needs children from One Tree Point School, a remote Northland coastal school, will be able to continue to benefit from the therapy that horse riding provides them, thanks to a grant from the Mazda Foundation.

Mazda Foundation funding to the tune of $1973.16 has enabled the students to continue the Riding for the Disabled programme each Monday for a half hour session.

The Riding for the Disabled programme provides the children, with disabilities ranging from Down Syndrome, Autism and Global Delay, with an individually planned programme of riding therapy, recreation and education, based on the needs of each child.

Gemma Jackson, One Tree Point School’s Special Needs teacher, said the children are already demonstrating positive benefits having attended for term one, and she is very keen for the programme to continue for the rest of the year.

“It is a one hour round journey to get there and back and this grant has covered the cost of petrol and mileage to the course for the rest of the year.”

“One boy with autism, who doesn’t like animals, immediately formed a special bond with his horse. He went straight up to him and tickled his ears. It was so heart-warming to watch.

“Their self-confidence has improved enormously,” said Gemma. “They are now even riding unaccompanied at times, having started just grooming and walking with the horses. This programme has really given these students the chance to shine and show responsibility for something.”