Children in Need How Youve Helped - 2008

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Information & Advice

Health and Beauty Magazine

Children in Need: How You've Helped - 2008

Lucie Tobin

Lucie Tobin

Health & Beauty Magazine Online Editor

Published 17th November 2008

Last year Boots pledged its support for BBC Children in Need. One of the organisations to benefit was Taking the Reins, a horse-riding project that helps boost the confidence of children with many kinds of disabilities

With your support, Boots is helping BBC Children in Need to fund more than 3,000 UK-based projects. Taking the Reins is an equine-facilitated learning (or ‘horse whispering’) project in Rugby,

Warwickshire, which has been supported by Children in Need since 2006.
Read on to find out how your donations have made a real difference to the children who attend the centre.

Mandy Neville

Bonding with horses helps to boost confidence

Taking the Reins helps children with life-threatening diseases, disabilities such as cerebral palsy, those with autism and emotional and behavioural difficulties and those from disadvantagedbackgrounds to build confidence, self-esteem and better relationships.

Remember the film The Horse Whisperer? Similar methods are applied at Taking the Reins, using the animals’ natural body language to build a bond between horse and child. Children soon learn how their own behaviour affects the way the horses respond to them. ‘For children who don’t often excel, this can be extremely significant, helping them develop trust, control and confidence,’ says founder Mandy Neville.

Children from all over the UK come to Taking the Reins for a course of 12 sessions. One child on the project is Matthias, 12, known as Mattie. ‘Mattie has autism spectrum disorder and this can manifest as a lack of imagination, communication difficulties and social interaction problems,’ explains mum Georgina. ‘He gets frustrated if he doesn’t understand a question, and he’ll shout it back to me over and over. Taking the Reins is the first real opportunity he’s had to be himself.’

While she’s talking, Mattie is calmly grooming one of the eight horses at the stables and following instructions from project leader Vicky Whittle. ‘It’s hard when your learning disability means you don’t understand the world and the world doesn’t understand you,’ says Georgina. ‘The horses don’t make any demands on him. I can tell from his body language that he's much happier and relaxed, as he’s able to calmly follow instructions.’

Taking the Reins inspires kids to have a better future

Stacey, 11, struggles with emotional and behavioural difficulties and was recently expelled from school. When she first came to Taking the Reins, she had no self-belief and no energy to get involved with the horses or the other children. She's now learning to build better relationships with others and, in turn, build her self-esteem.

‘I can’t really say why I like it here, I just know that I do,’ says Stacey, who has nine brothers and sisters at home. ‘At first, I didn’t think I’d be able to get the horses to do what I ask, but now I know I can do it, I feel much happier.'

In just six weeks, Stacey’s enthusiasm for life has grown considerably. Her mum's discussing plans to get her back into school, and Stacey herself is keen to make the most of her future. ‘I’d like to do something like this when I finish school,’ she says. ‘I’d love to work with horses again – it’s great here.’

Children in Need awarded Taking the Reins around £122,500 in 2006. ‘We couldn’t run this place without Children in Need,’ says Mandy. ‘Since we set up the project, I’ve seen more parents cry here than in my entire career. It's really successful with children who may not get help anywhere else.’

Other projects funded by Children in Need

Children in Need donates money to projects across the UK. Here are a few more that have benefited:

•     Mousetrap Foundation, London
Its project, Envision, allows visually impaired children to engage with London theatre through specially designed workshops. Rosie, 18, visited the Billy Elliot set. Since the show, she’s become more confident and inspired to start dance classes.

•    Anderstown Traditional and Contemporary Music School, Belfast
This school is in an area of economic deprivation, but Children in Need allows it to offer a range of free classes to 5–18-year-olds. James, 15, has been taking drumming lessons and is now setting long-term goals for his future.

•    Ladybird Pre 5 Centre, Greenock
The only facility like this in the area, this under-fives centre offers opportunities for socially disadvantaged children to take part in activities such as games, drama and cookery classes. Staff encourage children to motivate and inspire themselves.

How your Children in Need contribution can help

Next time you’re at the checkout in Boots, you may buy a Pudsey badge set for £1 and think no more about it. But this one simple purchase will go towards helping the lives of thousands of disabled and disadvantaged children who are supported by the charity.

Donating just £3, for instance, could enable a child in respite care to spend a day in a sensory garden, while £10 could pay for a young athlete who has had an organ transplant to enter the British Transplant Games (figure based on grants awarded in 2007).

Written by Rosalind Ryan

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