On Friday, September 25th, Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner and Green Party leader visited the Sunrise Therapeutic Riding & Learning Centre farm in Puslinch Township, to learn more about this registered Canadian Charity that has been serving the Guelph community for over 38 years .
Apart from seeing the facility and discussing the present Sunrise programming for children and adults with a wide range of disabilities, MPP Schreiner, staff and board members discussed the huge need for Respite services, in Wellington / Dufferin, especially for adult children with disabilities.
In the documented ‘Review of Respite Services in Wellington – Dufferin, overall there are over 200 on the wait list, the longest being for overnight and weekend services, but there are many more adult children that are not even on a list.
This led to a conversation surrounding a proposed future Respite programming project at the
Sunrise farm, as an extension of the existing Life Skills Day program for high school graduates with special needs.
Other new and innovative programs triggered by the challenges of COVID -19 were discussed.
Namely the Little Breeches Program for 4 to 7 year olds, previously offered on Saturdays in Spring and Fall. This program is now running Wednesdays to Saturdays ,and has been joined by a new venture ,’ Mini Moments’ for 7 to 12 year olds on the same days . These programs have fewer spaces to comply with the social distancing protocols but have experienced positive registration numbers.
In addition, the new Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) Program has been launched with a certified facilitator who is also the Sunrise Program Coordinator, and a senior therapeutic riding instructor. This is program designed for team building and personal growth, working with horses on the ground. Participants can attend in their ‘family bubbles ‘. But most importantly it is a great program for Front Line and Essential workers to promote mental and emotional well-being. What better balance for those working long hours wearing PPE and caring for others, than to come to the open farm spaces and connect with the very special Sunrise therapy horses!
Regarding the Sunrise core program of therapeutic riding, our participants are gradually returning, but due to the pandemic only those who are independent riders or those who need very little assistance and use a leader only are able to return at this time.
We appreciated MPP Schreiner‘s visit and know that he was impressed with the variety of programs available at the farm. Conversations with him regarding our future vision for additional much needed programs will be ongoing.