Scion makes unique donation to RDA

24 May 2006

Rotorua’s Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) has just received a donation with a difference – two truck loads of wood chips from Crown Research Institute Scion.

The RDA is a not-for-profit organisation that provides equine related activities for disabled people of all ages and ability levels, from beginner through to Paralympics riders.

Working with horses has been proven to improve both physical and emotional skill sets for participants including balance, posture and muscle tone as well as self-esteem, independence and social skills.

While many riding schools use saw dust to line their stables, the RDA must use wood chips as certain health conditions are aggravated by dust and the wood chips provide a cleaner alternative.

The wood chips also provide a softer landing for the inevitable occasional tumble.

The donation was initiated by scientist Christine Todoroki from Scion, who has seen the benefits an RDA programme can provide to people in the community.

“I know what a difference participating in an RDA programme can make for someone. I have heard wonderful testimonies from friends and neighbours associated with the programme.

“Scion, through its joint forestry venture Ensis, uses wood chips as part of its pulp and paper research. The wood chips are crushed into a pulp to make laboratory scale paper and then tested for durability. The excess wood chips have traditionally been mixed into the soil of trees in the Ensis on-site nursery or have been used by staff. The wood chips will now provide greater benefit to a highly-deserving group in the local community,” says Dr Todoroki.

Participants in the RDA’s programmes come with varied disabilities including but not limited to Autism, visual impairment, cerebral palsy, congenital & emotional issues.

Currently, the RDA works with 140 clients and they juggle a growing waiting list of prospective clients, referred to them by teachers, parents, GSE, local hospitals and they also accept some self referrals.

With no government assistance, the RDA must often rely on donations from the community in order to maintain their standard of care.

While all donations are welcome, including hay to feed the horses and timber to build the fences, they are also always looking for volunteers.

“You don’t have to be a horsy person to volunteer here. We will make use of everyone’s skills. We just need volunteers that can offer empathy and not sympathy,” says head coach Kate Honour.

For more information on the Rotorua Riding for the Disabled Association and how you can get involved, please contact Kate Honour on 07 345 9521 or visit