Manukau Courier : March 11th 2014
www.manukaucourier.co.nz NEWS Helping disabled to ride ‘good addiction’ By ANNA LOREN Fran Silke has one word to describe what it’s like to help people with disabilities to ride: ‘‘addictive’’. The retiree started volunteering with Totara Park Riding for the Disabled last year and soon found he couldn’t tear himself away. ‘‘When you get to know the horses and the riders, there is a certain amount of addiction and it’s all good addiction,’’ he says. Mr Silke is one of many side-walkers who give their time to help out at the RDA every week. He passes on directions from the instructor and monitors the riders to make sure they’re safe, happy and engaged. One of his charges is 10-year-old Dylan Schneider, who has muscular dystrophy. The keen horseman rides at Totara Park every week and says one of the best parts is how relaxing it is. Dad Michael says it’s been great watching Dylan learn to ride since he started last year. The sessions help him with his balance and keep his muscles from shortening permanently. But even better than the physical benefits are the changes to Dylan’s state of mind, Mr Schneider says. ‘‘He’s getting a lot of self- Preloved gifts: Wymondley Road School principal Pelu Leaupepetele, left, accepts 40 Samsung Galaxy tablets, which were previously used by the Vodafone Warriors, from dtr managing director Mark Spring. School goes high-tech with donated tablets Students at an Otara primary school are enjoying the benefits of smart technology after a donation of 40 Samsung Galaxy tablets. Horsing around: Ten-year-old Dylan Schneider gets out and about on Clyde. He’s supported by Totara Park Riding for the Disabled volunteers Fran Silke, left, and Stuart Wilkerson. confidence and being good at something, which is nice. He’s so happy. ‘‘It’s interacting with adults while doing a fun thing, as opposed to in hospitals or at school.’’ Muscular dystrophy is a progressive disease so Dylan’s condition will not improve over time. But Mr Schneider says it’s heart-warming watching other kids get fitter and stronger through their riding. ‘‘They’ve grown so much. There are kids who couldn’t walk unassisted when they got here and now they can.’’ Totara Park RDA is look- ing for more leaders and sidewalkers to help on Monday and Thursday mornings. People are also needed to help care for the grounds and the nine horses and ponies. No experience with horses or people with disabilities is needed as full training is provided. Photo:ANNALOREN But volunteers do need to have a moderate level of fitness, good communication skills, a lot of empathy and a sense of humour. ❚ Phone Karen on 537 1505 or 021 243 2311, Heather on 267 1254 or 021 055 0406 or Rae on 535 7825 or 021 167 6023 to find out more about volunteering. You can also sponsor a horse for a year for $1200. Call Mo on 536 4114 to find out how. Retailer and finance company dtr gifted Wymondley Road School the tablets for supervised classroom use. Associate principal Aina Masina says the donation will help out both students and parents. ‘‘Parents are under increasing pressure to buy ‘high-tech’ equipment for their children’s school use and dtr’s contribution removes that cost,’’ he says. ‘‘The tablets create an opportunity for students at the school to learn how to use technology with strict teacher supervision.’’ Company managing director Mark Spring says technology aids learning. ‘‘Studies have shown that smart technology presents opportunities to encourage learning and physical activity at the click of a button,’’ he says. The company previously supplied the same tablets to the Vodafone Warriors for the 2013 season to give the team a technological edge when preparing for training and games. The Warriors and dtr representatives attended the presentation of the tablets at the school. Photo: SUPPLIED MANUKAU COURIER, MARCH 11, 2014 17 Volunteers tackle chores despite rain Kindness works: Two hundred valiant volunteers have worked through the rain to help a local school. Redoubt Stake Mormon Helping Hands volunteers turned out to help Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate by painting, weeding and water blasting around the grounds. They also painted 52 ‘‘inspired’’ boards for posting at the school, inset, restored broken tables and raked and levelled land behind the late Sir Edmund Hillary’s house which is now a leadership centre for students and the community. Organisers calculate they achieved four months’ worth of work and saved the school around $12,000 – in under 3.5 hours.
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