Last week, two of our young Friday volunteers from North Berwick High School won a competition organised by the Youth & Philanthropy Initiative Scotland, resulting in the prize of £3,000 awarded to their charity of choice, Muirfield Riding Therapy!
Muirfield Riding Therapy would not exist without its volunteers. Aged from 12-86, these individuals bring all sorts of skills, life experience and outlook to the table. The Friday afternoon session is blessed with a large proportion of school aged children who dash in at lunchtime after their morning classes, throwing their school bags aside swapping blazers for boots.
When they first start volunteering the youngsters may be shy and seem, in that teenage way, to be a bit detached. But this reticence soon disappears as they learn what is expected of them and begin to build relationships with other team members and, more importantly, with the young riders that they work with.
Having teenagers in the team helps us to break down the barriers that can exist between disabled and more able youngsters. In sessions they are just kids having fun together!
Last week two of the young Friday volunteers from North Berwick High School, submitted a presentation to the Youth & Philanthropy Initiative Scotland (YPI Scotland), a structured curricular programme, designed for secondary schools, centred on youth voice, youth action and youth philanthropy. Students compete for a £3,000 award for their charity of choice. Their presentation showed a real understanding of how MRT benefits their young riders and their families. In addition to this, the girls’ presentation also included details of our recently launched weekly drop-in cafe for people living with dementia and their families, friends and carers.
This initiative has been done in partnership with Dementia Friendly East Lothian. Over the next few months we are hoping to develop the service to introduce working with the ponies. We believe that contact with the ponies can be helpful through bringing new connections and experiences for those who come along. To do this we will need to research practices and approaches which will be safe for everyone involved, train our volunteers in working with people living with dementia and to create fliers to attract more people to come. For some of our potential guests’ transport will also be an issue and so we will work with local transport options for individuals and groups.
Competition for the prize was stiff but Mairi, Jamila and their friends’ enthusiasm and belief in the charity shone through and MRT were awarded £3000.
We are very grateful to all of our youngsters for their day to day commitment to the running of sessions, but we are especially grateful to the two girls for making such a brilliant effort in applying for this award.
We are delighted that the winning £3,000 will be used to build and develop the service we offer to people living with dementia in our community.