Discover the stories behind Calvary's clients || Every week you will find Albert and Yvonne Donnan volunteering at Shepparton Pony Club as part of the Riding the Disabled program.
Together with fifty other volunteers, Albert and Yvonne Donnan support the local Riding for the Disabled program. Children are welcome to learn to ride and interact with the horses. The Donnans lead and feed the horses, teach the kids riding skills and help out in the kitchen buttering sandwiches.
"Riding horses helps the kids build up their core body strength", explains Yvonne, "but the actual riding is only secondary. The real benefit is the social interaction and relationships the kids develop with both the horses and people."
Albert and Yvonne have been involved with Riding for the Disabled for over thirty seven years. Their youngest daughter was born with an intellectual disability and watched her three siblings at pony club and gymkhanas, eager to participate.
The Donnans recruited both horses and volunteers to start up the local RDA chapter. It has now become a vibrant and interactive community access activity within the greater Shepparton region.
"We have had kids who have never seen a horse before, or couldn’t put their hand in their pocket transformed after coming here," said Yvonne. She went on to explain that, "you may not always get words but you get the smiles."
All the horses in the program undergo rigorous screening by the inspection committee. This ensures that they are docile, good natured and can cope with sudden movement as some of the kids throw their hands around impulsively.
Their son Ray who also helps out laughingly says, “that it is only a myth it's only about the riding, it actually keeps the oldies active!”
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Founded in 1885 by the Sisters of the Little Company of Mary, Calvary is a charitable, not-for-profit, Catholic health care organisation. Our mission is to provide quality, compassionate health care to the most vulnerable, including those reaching the end of their life. We're responsible for over 12,000 staff and volunteers, 15 Public and Private Hospitals, 15 Retirement and Aged Care Facilities and a national network of Community Care Centres.
We look forward to welcoming you into the Calvary community.