Friends’ pupils takeleap of faith forDonkey Sanctuary

PUPILS from Friends’ School are set to take a leap of faith with a charity abseil for The Donkey Sanctuary, Belfast, which provides free donkey riding therapy to children with disabilities and additional needs.

Year 9 pupil Cliodhna Denvir Symington, who volunteers at the sanctuary, has convinced several fellow pupils to join her for the abseil, which will see them go down a cliff face in Bushmills, before climbing back up and then tackling a high ropes course.

The Donkey Sanctuary’s purpose built centre is based at Templepatrick and welcomes over 150 children per week for donkey therapy sessions with their families and schools.

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The children develop socially, physically and emotionally during the riding therapy, through their participation in interactive and stimulating games that encourage speech and language, fine motor skills, co-ordination and core stability. They also benefit from using the excellent facilities available at the centre, which include a sensory room, indoor and outdoor play areas, and an opportunity to develop a relationship with the donkeys through grooming.

Cliodhna said: “I have had the pleasure of experiencing the joy the children receive from interacting with the wonderful donkeys as I often volunteer at the centre. The donkeys are relinquished locally to the Donkey Sanctuary and a number of them have been rescued or abandoned. These amazing animals visit schools, nursing homes, hospitals and hospices to provide therapy and raise awareness of their unique work.”

As part of her voluntary work Cliodhna also helped with looking after the donkeys to train them for riding, attend fundraising events, show visitors around the centre and help in the arena with the children.

The local girl has been busy fundraising for the charity in her spare time recently.

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“My school have been extremely supportive to the charity through donating funds raised at a bun sale organised by the Show Jumping Team,” said Cliodhna. “I have convinced three of my school friends, Grace Caldwell, Zachary Campbell and Archie Collins to join me in taking part in the ‘Abseil Challenge’ organised by the charity.”

To raise awareness and funds Brooke and Joanna from The Donkey Sanctuary visited Friends’ recently to talk in assembly about their work although there was no doubt that the star of the show was Benji the Donkey who was a hit with the pupils.

Cliodhna, on behalf of The Donkey Sanctuary would like to thank all of the pupils and teachers from Friends’ for their generous donations.