Rid­ing group’s life in limbo con­tin­ues

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KARO­LINE TUCKEY

A long list of Rid­ing for the Dis­abled clients and care­givers are hold­ing their breath month by month while the char­ity con­tin­ues to look for a new home.

The old Porirua Hos­pi­tal site, at which the Welling­ton branch has op­er­ated since 1985, was sold at the end of last year.

The group have been able to con­tinue us­ing the site, but the lease is re­assessed each month.

RDA vice-pres­i­dent Donna Kennedy says the group deeply ap­pre­ci­ates the sup­port it has had from the pre­vi­ous land own­ers, Cap­i­tal & Coast District Health Board, and cur­rent own­ers, the Crown Health Au­thor­ity (CHA) and the Of­fice of Treaty Set­tle­ments, who are not charg­ing RDA for lease.

‘‘But we’re still look­ing for land, still home­less. It’s a bit stress­ful – you never quite know what’s go­ing on.’’

More than 50 clients use the ser­vice, though more would like to take part, and there’s a long wait­ing list. Most clients are school-age and are liv­ing with phys­i­cal or in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties, in­clud­ing autism, down syn­drome and epilepsy.

‘‘The ben­e­fits of ther­a­peu­tic rid­ing are just huge.

‘‘These are some of the most vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple in so­ci­ety, and it’s a cheap ther­apy and a proven ther­apy, and it works, and they just can’t af­ford to lose it, these kids can de­velop so many life skills from rid­ing – rid­ing bikes, feed­ing them­selves, that all comes from rid­ing with us.’’

Two new pro­grammes were re­cently in­tro­duced – an Equine As­sisted Ther­apy pro­gramme, and a Men­tal Health Rid­ing pro­gramme, which com­bine coun­selling with rid­ing and an­i­mal care to help de­velop phys­i­cal, so­cial and life skills.

The group needs about 10 to 15 hectares of graz­ing land, as well as flat land for an arena, of­fices, and stalls.

‘‘We’re look­ing for some­thing long term, we would want to in­vest a sub­stan­tial amount – a cou­ple of hun­dred thou­sand,‘‘ she says. ‘‘We’ll cut our cloth to fit. We’ll just have to work to what we get.’’

Ms Kennedy is con­fi­dent that once suit­able land is found RDA will be able to build its fa­cil­i­ties up again through com­mu­nity grants.

Since the or­gan­i­sa­tion first made a pub­lic ap­peal through Kapi-Mana News last Oc­to­ber, it has had sev­eral of­fers of leases. Un­for­tu­nately none have been suit­able, she says.

Of­fice of Treaty Set­tle­ments di­rec­tor Peter Galvin says some of the land used by the RDA is part of 42.27 hectares of the former Porirua Hos­pi­tal pur­chased from the C&CDHB for po­ten­tial use in treaty set­tle­ments.

‘‘The prop­erty is in the core of Ngati Toa’s rohe [tra­di­tional bound­aries], and is cur­rently be­ing held in the OTS land­bank as part of the on­go­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions with the iwi.’’

The OTS will re­tain own­er­ship of the land un­til af­ter any set­tle­ment leg­is­la­tion is passed, which is not likely to be un­til next year, when the iwi would have two years to de­cide whether to pur­chase it, Mr Galvin says.

CHA spokesper­son Tracy Lloyd says the or­gan­i­sa­tion owns the other block, which it plans to sell, and says both blocks were orig­i­nally sold as they were not needed.

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