Not your typical riding school

Themba and Maria, also from Bona Lesedi Day Care Centre, flank Shumbashaba coach, Renae Erasmus. All three flew to Los Angeles, USA, to represent SA at the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games. Photo: Shumbashaba


Shumbashaba, an equestrian facility based in Diepsloot Agricultural Holdings, is doing great work to help children with special needs.

Through its Shumbashaba Horses Helping People programmes, the facility works with over 200 children from the Diepsloot community who want to learn to ride, as well as those from Bona Lesedi Day Care Centre, a daycare for children with disabilities.

Jacky du Plessis from Shumbashaba facility in Diepsloot Agricultural Holdings. Photo: Shumbashaba

The facility’s founding trustee Jacky du Plessis told the Fourways Review that the programme started with the love of horses and people.

“Our founder, Sharon Boyce is a trained therapeutic riding instructor and helps address physical and intellectual needs of the children who come to us,” said Du Plessis. She explained that the facility, which offers therapeutic riding as a recreational sport and therapy, also assists children with cerebral palsy.

Two of the riders, Themba Sibiya and Maria Matlala, as a result of their participation in Unified Sports Days, a Special Olympics SA Advancement Event held last year, were selected to join the team flying off to Los Angeles in the USA to participate in the Special Olympics World Summer Games. These games draw the world’s attention to the talents and capabilities of people with intellectual disabilities.

A Diepsloot child bonds with a pony at Shumbashaba. Photo: Shumbashaba

They will join the more than 7 000 Special Olympics athletes from 170 nations who will compete in 21 Olympic-type sports, said Du Plessis.

On 25 November, the facility will host a Special Olympics unified day where children with special needs, and those who are independently mobile, will compete against each other in horse riding, soccer and other sporting codes.

The facility also uses a United States model called Ground-Based Equine Assisted Growth and Learning, which is recognised by Mental Health Professional Council in 41 countries.

“Through this programme, we have seen changes in the lives of children with special needs who were disruptive at school. They now interact better and do their homework well. This can also be used as a bullying preventative programme,” Du Plessis said.

Speaking about the impact the programmes at Shumbashaba have on poor children Du Plessis said, “We can’t take away poverty but we can show the kids that they are uniquely valuable and can have a positive outlook on life, in spite of their circumstances. The programme now also includes parents of the children who come to the facility. We want to involve teachers as well.”

Children from Diepsloot interact with one of the horses at Shumbashaba. Photo: Shumbashaba

Details: To donate clothes, toys, books and riding gear for Diepsloot children at the facility email: [email protected]

How are you helping the community? Tweet us @Fourways_Review

Daniella Potter
News Editor

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