Adults with intellectual disabilities are sometimes excluded from the traditional sport activities. The Horses Connect Saturday Club tackles this issue by offering lessons with horses to a group of 6–8 disabled people to teach them about social and emotional intelligence, self-esteem, communication, leadership, responsibility and teamwork.
This project greatly helps their physical fitness, balance and co-ordination, and fine and gross motor skills. Organised once a week it helps get them away from screens and out into nature. Most importantly, it keeps them engaged in ‘learning by doing’.
Combining the physics with the social
This initiative is all the more important in allowing a better social integration of a population that is often excluded. Most of these young adults are at the end of their formal education and there are limited opportunities for them to further their studies.
Impacts are various for this project. Apart from the obvious physical changes that Saturday Club members experience – better spatial awareness, posture, fitness, co-ordination etc. – there is also a marked improvement in behaviour, self-confidence, social skills and communication.
Most of the club members will progress studying for a formal level award in stable and yard routine which will significantly increase their chances of finding employment in the equine industry by providing them with a recognised qualification.
The project: The Horses Connect Saturday Club
- Award category: National projects (Ireland)
- Learner target group: Adults with intellectual disabilities
- Innovative practice: Combining physical fitness and emotional intelligence exercises
- Organisation: Western Stables, Ballagh Rd, Bushypark, Galway
- Contact: Eileen Bennett
The article series shares good practices on engaging new learners by introducing the nominees of the EAEA Grundtvig Award 2017.
Text: Lou-Andréa PinsonPhotos: Saturday Club