The Unicorn Centre, a registered charity, is a purpose built riding for the disabled facility which offers riding therapy and learning and training opportunities for over 200 disabled adults and children from the Tees Valley area each week. Opened in 1998, the Centre has become an established part of the local community, with a strong contingent of about 100 local volunteers who assist with riding lessons each week.
Our aim is to provide riding for people with disabilities in an inclusive, safe and supportive environment that will allow each individual to achieve their full potential. To provide this service we depend on a committed group of staff and volunteers and input from families and personal assistants. In addition we depend on contributions by able-bodied individuals and clubs also making use of our facilities.
The Centre opened in 1998 funded largely through the Sports Lottery fund. With limited funding from user fees, it relies entirely on ongoing fundraising and donations to subsidise the cost of lessons.
The Centre works across the spectrum of disabilities, age range, social status and environments. Our focus is to ensure that each individual is given the chance to derive a direct therapeutic benefit and the opportunity to achieve their full potential; whether that be sitting with support astride a pony and riding down one side of the arena or competing at Paralympic dressage level.
The Unicorn Centre is a member group of the national Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA), (although is autonomous in its own right as a separate, independent, registered charity) and as such shares three principal objectives: Developing and supporting opportunities for therapy Developing and supporting opportunities for achievement Enabling physical activity and enjoyment The Unicorn Centre gives all its riders the opportunity to reach therapeutic goals and personal ambitions, to develop life skills and often to combat social isolation. Riders are also encouraged to develop a caring attitude and to connect with our wonderful and specially trained horses and ponies, without whom the Centre could not deliver its valuable service.
The Unicorn Centre has six core values, which underpin all our activities: To provide a high quality service in all it does To value the input of people at all levels and to be positive about their achievements – whether as a rider, volunteer, learner or staff member To emphasise the importance of training and achievement for all riders, volunteers, learners and staff members To value the input of participants in deciding its future To be accessible to all – whether as a rider, learner or as a volunteer To be professionally run, communicating openly at all levels and to be financially transparent
Riding for the Disabled Association The Unicorn Centre works closely with the Riding for the Disabled Association, the national charity for riding and driving for the disabled, and physiotherapy on horseback. The national Federation of almost 650 groups throughout England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland dispenses a unique therapy. It provides disabled and impaired people the opportunity to improve their physical and mental health through education and fun with horses. Each week well over 25,000 children and adults enjoy the experience of riding or carriage driving – with opportunities to join in social activities, competitions, or to take a holiday. These activities combine to bring a new dimension to necessarily restricted lives, encourage independence and do much to improve a wide range of medical conditions.