The Childvision Centre in Drumcondra is a truly remarkable place, so Lottie MD Ian Harkin recently discovered when he visited the National Education Centre for blind children. The 150-year-old organisation is the only place in Ireland totally dedicated to the education and therapy needs of blind and multi-disabled children. Through the wonderful work done by the staff at Childvision, thousands of children with sight loss and other profound disabilities have bravely overcome their obstacles and grown up embracing life and their own unique abilities in a way neither they nor their parents ever imagined possible.
Among the many, many various therapies conducted at Childvision, one of the most extraordinary is perhaps their equine therapy program. The centre has long since recognised the immense power of interaction between people and horses. Horse-riding offers children the opportunity to improve joint mobility, balance and co-ordination. Engagement with the animals can also have profound effects on a child’s confidence and social interaction skills. In recent studies examining the benefits of equine assisted therapy, it was found that children “engaged actively in sessions and were able to listen and verbalise commands. They were also noted to have a continuous level of attention. Positive results were noted in the post test period and follow up evaluations in areas such as sensory seeking, cognition, communication, motivation, sensitivity, emotional reaction and distractibility”.
Childvision is unique in it’s Equine service, offering a combination of both equine and occupational therapy using the horse as tool. So astounding are the benefits of equine therapy that Childvision’s Audrey Darby, an occupational therapist and equine manager Terri Brosnan are soon to present a paper on the subject at the International Society of Anthrozoology (ISAZ) in Sydney around the theme of “Animals in Our Lives: Multidisciplinary Approaches to Study of Human-Animal Interactions”. The conference will be help from the 2nd – 8th July.
One of the centre’s most popular visitors, a five-year-old girl who by an amazing co-incidence has it is also named Lottie, was on hand to welcome Ian to the centre. Lottie, who has a visual impairment loves visiting the centre and even has a favourite horse! The great work done by everyone at Childvision and the amazing children who, like Lottie attend it, prompted our MD Ian Harkin, to announce a ‘Buy One, Gift One’ drive. For every Lottie Doll or horse bought on www.lottie.ie Lottie, we will donate one Sirius Pony to the centre. You can add your donation to your purchase by using the code ‘CHILDVISION’ at checkout. The campaign will run from March 14th until the end of the month.
‘All of the work that goes into the equine programme at ChildVision is fully funded through the generosity of donations. The results are extraordinary, we witness it every day. Thank you to Lottie Dolls for thinking of us with this initiative and we hope it raises funds to help contribute towards this life changing therapy", said Ruth Hickey, Head of Development and Communications at ChildVision.
Lottie Dolls has previously championed inclusivity in toys by collaborating with Toy Like Me, a non-profit organisation to develop the worlds first mass-produced doll with a cochlear implant. Mia the Wildlife Photographer was released in July 2017. Lottie Dolls recognise the great work done by Childvision to encourage all children to actively enjoy horseriding in a way which increases their independence skills and inspires them to dream big!