As our donkey assisted therapy centre in Birmingham prepares to celebrate its 21st birthday, we look back at the many children that have benefited from the amazing work donkeys do.
From the humble days of providing therapy rides in school fields, the donkeys that live at the Sanctuary in Sutton Park have always brought a smile to the faces of children and adults alike. The Centre now gives rides to approximately 200 children per week, a number which has grown enormously over the years. Our team has also seen an increase in complexity of additional needs that they tailor therapy sessions to. A number of children have ridden who require 24 hour care from medical and ambulance staff. The Birmingham team are proud that we work to overcome barriers to riding so that all children with additional needs can benefit from donkey assisted therapy.
Our team of riding instructors, grooms and volunteers work alongside the donkeys to tailor therapy rides for children with a wide range of additional needs. Over our 21 years, children of all ages have enjoyed rides, cart riding, grooming and cuddling their four legged donkey friends.
Some notable riders have been Cerys, a young girl who, after suffering trauma in a car accident at a young age, now finds donkey riding one of her most favourite things. We also have Amber and Hope, twins who have shared a journey of growing self-confidence with our donkey called Shocks. Amber and Hope, both premature babies with medical conditions, have fallen in love with Shocks, a donkey who has exceeded all expectations as a therapy donkey after a mistreated start in life.
And also Sean, who as a young boy found that donkey riding helped his autism and dyspraxia by improving his co-ordination and balance. We are pleased to say that, not only did Sean start volunteering with us at 16, he now works for us as a groom.
From a few local schools 21 years ago, our Centre is now affiliated with many schools in the Birmingham area, as well as looking to expand their reach to children undergoing social and emotional difficulties. We are so proud that our donkeys have helped give thousands of smiles to children in the Midlands.
In the final turning 21 blog we celebrate the exciting work that Birmingham do on their outreach programmes, and their events throughout the year back at the Centre.