Rivendell ReCreation Center

Rivendell ReCreation Center


 

Organization

Rivendell ReCreation Center is a private, all-volunteer, not-for-profit corporation, dedicated to horseback riding programs and farm-related activities for mentally, emotionally, and physically challenged children and adults (and their direct-related family members) in Western New York. Rivendell is a client/consumer-centered organization, created as a result of information presented in a survey by Excaliber, Inc. This survey estimated 2500 handicapped persons whose recreational needs are not being met by existing programs. For those interested in horseback riding for recreation, there are several programs available. Rivendell expanded its operation to include hippotherapy and developmental riding, as well as recreational riding, to serve a broader range of handicapped individuals.

(Hippotherapy is not a traditional form of horseback riding. The rider ((patient)) does not try to influence the horse in any way. The horse is ground-driven by an experienced instructor. Only the motion of the horse's back to the rider becomes a physiotherapy apparatus, which moves independently and serves as a mobile support, under the direction of a physical therapist. Developmental riding, using surcingles and pads only, is used to assist the following: improving equilibrium righting reactions; increasing proprioceptive sense dynamic movement experience; improving trunk and extremity control through gross/fine motor development; and improving perceptual motor areas - - deep body image and awareness. The learnings acquired in developmental riding transfer to recreational riding if approved by medical and physical therapy evaluations (as well as rider desire). Recreational riding aims at a general improvement of traditional riding skills, leading to competition if desired.)

The numbers of handicapped individuals increase each year. Whether born disabled, or later disabled as the result of an illness or accident, all require special treatment to render them capable of leading independent lives where possible. While wholesome recreation cannot substitute for the basic necessities of sustaining life, it does nave the potential for therapeutic benefits for all people. A person who has acquired a fund of recreational interest, appreciation and skills, will include in daily living, activities that are relaxing, creative or stimulating. Recreation contributes to physical, mental, and emotional fitness, and to social stability. Participation in a riding program with planned socioleisure activities is considered to be therapeutic.

Joseph H. Nargalis, a National Recreation and Park Association Board of Trustees member, commented in testimony before the House Subcommittee on Labor, Health, Education, and Welfare, on supporting an appropriate of $10 million to expand recreation services for the handicapped (as authorized by the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1978):

"Recreation experiences provide an excellent opportunity for the handicapped to associate with society as a whole These experiences can contribute to the rehabilitation of handicapped individuals and their inclusion in education, employment, and other individual social functions."

dateline: NRPA 2:4 June/July 1979 p.10

In its broadest sense, the aim of leisure and recreation programs is to help all people achieve fuller, happier, and more harmonious, effective lives. A constructive attitude toward life is important to each individual. ReCreative experiences can contribute to such an attitude.

Therapeutic recreation programs have but one vital basis: the needs and interests of handicapped individuals. Physical activities rank very high in popularity among all ages, sexes, and handicaps. Participation by members of special populations in activities of a physical nature (such as horseback riding) have values over and above the obvious benefits of therapy. To this popularity, Rivendell Recreation Center adds animal-facilitated therapy, the bonding of person to horse - - Rivendell's attempt to help persons deal with the wonder of life and the realities of society. The horse and domestic farm animals are important, contributing members of the therapeutic and recreation teams. Animals are non-judgmental, non-threatening, living creatures who play significant roles in human development. Modern technology has liberated human beings from some labors and some diseases. Urban and suburban living in a fast-paced society take their toll, however, in stress-related ailments and increasing alienation from the real world. Animals provide human beings with a link to the real world, and may help preserve some of the better qualities of human nature. And the fuzzy, friendly quality of the horse provides a source of love and reassurance as a veil.

Horseback riding for the handicapped is widely recognized as one of the most beneficial forms of recreational therapy that most handicapped persons, children or adults, can receive. Horseback riding develops self-awareness, builds confidence, and improves concentration and self-discipline. Horseback riding also strengthens and relaxes muscles; improves posture, balance and coordination; and improve joint mobility. Riding is particularly beneficial to wheelchair cases who have no natural means of locomotion. The action of the horse relaxes and stimulates unused muscles, building muscle tone and improving coordination. Riding also provides a tremendous boost to self-esteem.

Rivendell ReCreation Center' s riding and activity program is divided into three phases. During the Assessment and Prescriptive Phase, each prospective rider is interviewed and examined by a physical therapist and/or certified instructor with the use of an instrument designed for the riding program, to determine the current level of physical ability and the frequency of participation. As a part of this phase, riders will be introduced to Rivendell's purpose, content, and process. Included in these sessions is information related to riding for recreation, or developmental riding, or hippotherapy, and their implications and potential.

A program is developed for each rider reviewed and modified every 6 - 8 weeks, This program takes into account the handicap, social interaction needs, and recreational participation opportunities. A physical therapist (where needed), instructors, and staff personnel are involved in the creation of these personalized programs.

The Skill Development Phase deals not only with the actual riding or therapy skills involved, but also with the appropriate social behaviors necessary for participation in riding (and life) skills.

During the Recreation Participation Phase, Rivendell provides a comprehensive set of opportunities in which riders and their families can voluntarily engage in activities that stimulate experiences available in the community: riding competition; drop-in use of the facility; special and social events including picnics, trips. to other horse-related activities, etc. Rivendell's riders are urged to establish an ongoing pattern of leisure involvement through these activities which represent Rivendell ReCreation Center's social system of re-education.


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