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Riding for the Disabled Association supports Disability History Month

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Disability History Month shines a light on Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) as they help to address inequalities faced by disabled children and adults across the UK

For more than 50 years, the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) has been transforming the lives of disabled people, by bringing them together with horses and aiming to improve physical and mental health. Disability History Month, running from 16 November to 16 December, focuses on celebrating the lives of disabled people and has been designed to educate and inform others who have limited contact with the disabled community. With its focus on health and wellbeing, Disability History Month creates an opportunity for the RDA to highlight its significant role in addressing problems faced by disabled people, such as access to activities and the natural environment.

A massive 85% of RDA participants say that their RDA sessions are their main way of accessing physical exercise and that it creates a positive, long-term impact on their physical and mental health. Riding is still one of the most popular and accessible sports for disabled people, and a higher percentage (24%) take part in this sport compared to any other.

Since it was founded in 1969, the RDA has evolved and adapted to meet the changing needs of disabled communities and it continues to do so today, despite the harsh effects of global events. Speaking about the RDA’s role and the difficulties they faced in the pandemic, Rachel Medill, RDA Chair of Trustees, comments: “With the help of our network of volunteers, RDA stayed in touch with our disabled participants wherever possible and as soon as we were able to get our groups running again, we gave as much encouragement and support as we could to help them return to their pre-pandemic levels of activity.”

The RDA is going from strength to strength, as riders can now get involved in carriage driving, vaulting and showjumping, alongside other traditional riding activities, and many RDA centres now support participants with a broader range of disabilities and long-term conditions, including autism, dementia and mental health challenges.

The disabled community is striving to increase inclusivity and create better access to sport, and the RDA is wholly committed to fulfilling these aims. Whether it’s on an individual or personal level, being involved with horses can bring so many benefits to disabled riders. Not only will they develop better balance, co-ordination and strength, but they’ll also feel part of a wider community – something that can be hard to achieve in day-to-day activities.

The RDA relies on valuable donations from the public. For more information or to find out how you can donate, visit rda.org.uk 

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