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3rd December 2014

Marlborough Group's Early Intervention Programme

A new initiative at Marlborough Group RDA is proving a big success for young children with disabilities.

At the beginning of 2014, Marlborough RDA started an ‘Early Intervention’ programme at their indoor arena in Blenheim, catering to children aged from 1-4 years.  During these sessions, both the children and their parents participate together in the activities, typically spending about two hours at the Group. 

Along with their 30 minute riding therapy, the children are also based in a classroom environment - under the guidance of physio, occupational and speech therapists from the nearby hospital - working on their fine motor skills by utilising play dough, building blocks and other tools. 

The initial group was made up of eight children aged from 14 months and 4 years old, each with a range of physical, intellectual and social disabilities including cystic fibrosis, cerebral palsy and other rare disorders. 

In this environment they are able to focus on their individual goals, writing up their progress in their exercise books, as some of them learn to walk or talk for the first time.

Two of the children involved are twins Georgia and Olivia, both born three month’s premature and with Georgia living with multiple disabilities.  During their sessions, a speech therapist comes in to work with Georgia, teaching her to talk.

Marlborough Group RDA’s Roslein Wilkes that the programme was started in part because parents with disabled children can often feel isolated from other parents, and many experience loneliness as a result.

“It can be hard for parents with disabled children to relate with others not in the same situation; in this programme, because the children are meeting similar goals in the same timeframe, the parents are able to share their experiences and milestones with each other.”

Roslein says that they are fortunate to have the support of the local Paediatrician and therapists to assist with this programme.

“Nothing like this exists in Blenheim currently, and there was a definite need for a programme that combines classroom-based activities with horse therapy.  We are extremely lucky that the therapists have timetabled this into their already-busy programme.”

To date the programme a success, with the children involved able to achieve their individual goals and improve their quality of life.  The demand for this type of programme has been so great, that Marlborough Group RDA are now looking to fit in an additional programme in the New Year.

Roslein says that being involved in this programme has been a heart-warming experience.

“Watching these little ones becoming more mobile and confident, and to see their parents interacting and helping each other, has been absolutely fantastic.

I hope more RDA Groups will look to take up this initiative in the future.”





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