The Tauranga Equestrian Therapy Centre which promotes confidence, independence and wellbeing for people with disabilities and from disadvantaged backgrounds is also having positive effects on offenders serving community work sentences in Tauranga.
A combined venture between the Community Probation & Psychological Service (CPPS) and the Tauranga Equestrian Therapy Centre (Riding for the Disabled) sees offenders mucking in and helping at the centre to provide clean facilities and challenging activities for riders.
Community Work sentences require offenders to do unpaid work in the community for non-profit organisations as reparation for their offending, and can also provide offenders with life and social skills and help develop a work ethic that could help them gain employment in the future.
The Equestrian Therapy Centre currently benefits from two types of Community Work – groups of offenders supervised by Corrections staff undertake weed clearing and spraying, general labouring, shifting top soil and fixing large areas of fences.
The Centre also has up to four offenders at a time placed with them on an agency basis to clean paddocks, do general yard maintenance and if they show an interest, getting involved with grooming and preparing the horses.
The Equestrian Therapy Centre's operations manager Kat Macmillan says: “It’s just great to see how these young people thrive and change in the environment we have here. Many of the offenders complete their community hours and then come back as volunteers. One of them is keen to take up a career with horses and working here has turned his life around.
"When offenders come here they work hard and gain a wide variety of skills. They are treated with respect and are humbled by working with other volunteers and seeing people with disabilities that are less advantaged than themselves.”
Tauranga Equestrian Therapy Centre relies on the community work of offenders as well as a large number of volunteers. Ms Macmillan continues: “Without these people serving the community many not for profit organisations would find it hard to operate. We are extremely grateful for all the work that the offenders do here but most of all we are proud to see that many of them can be rehabilitated by serving their community.”
Tauranga Equestrian Therapy Centre also runs a programme for at risk youth aged 10-17 years. The centre receives referrals from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAHMS), the Police and CYF's, and alternative education centres.
The programme helps to improve self esteem, self confidence, empathy and social skills and helps to improve the likelihood of the youngsters attending school and finishing education.
Youth attending these programmes can return for phase two which is integrating as volunteers whereby they continue to gain skills and help people with disabilities in their community. The outcome of these programmes are proving to be extremely successful.
Last year New Zealand communities benefited from almost 3 million hours of labour supplied through community work sentences.
For more information about Tauranga Equestrian Therapy Centre contact Kat Macmillan on: 07 5441899 or 0210 2392608.
For further information on Community Work contact the Corrections Communications Services Desk on: (04) 460 3365 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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