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International Day of People with a Disability celebrations a success

International Disability Day

Sarah Gillett shared her plans to establish a Riding for the Disabled Centre in West Wyalong during local International Day of People with Disability celebrations at Café Peckish this morning.

More than 1000 individual events were held across Australia to celebrate International Day of People with a Disability and promote access, inclusion and empowerment for people of all abilities.

On a day which also featured the presentation of Bland Shire Access Awards to local businesses the West Wyalong Medical Centre and House of Fashion, Mrs Gillett had the crowd captivated by her vision and passion for providing a service which connects people with a disability to horses.

She shared her story of a childhood in the United Kingdom where her love of horses was born and how she carried that passion with her thousands of miles across the seas to a new adventure in Australia.

“The move to Australia, and West Wyalong in particular, gave me possibilities not imagined,” Mrs Gillett said.

“I rescued my first horse, named him Shiloh, and my path was set by him. I undertook retraining with Equestrian Australia in Sydney and soon after we purchased a 20 acre property on the edge of town which we are slowly filling with animals.”

She soon began providing private riding lessons and as word of mouth spread starting working with young people with special needs where the therapeutic benefits of working with horses has produced some outstanding results.

“With clients I have now, whether they have a diagnosed condition requiring special attention or not, their progress and achievements are hugely important to me,” Ms Gillett said.

Mrs Gillett said the relationship between horse and rider is based on communication.

“Helping an able bodied person communicate with the horse is a very satisfying way to spend an hour and I love it,” she said.

“Helping a person who has trouble communicating with the world to achieve just that, even in the smallest way, through interaction with a horse is an indescribable joy.

“My life has been enriched because of horses. My life is better because of horses. I want to be able to share that.”

Mrs Gillett has been in close contact with Riding for the Disabled and is positive about establishing a centre in West Wyalong. The next step in her journey is a public meeting in February where community support and attendance will be crucial to the future of the project.

She will also commence fundraising for Riding for the Disabled early in the new year.

“To be able to offer the opportunity through an organisation such as Riding for the Disabled is incredible and I am very grateful to those who have encouraged me to pursue it. I will try very hard to justify their faith in me.”

Following the address from Mrs Gillett, chairperson of the Bland Shire Access Advisory Committee Wendy Bowles and committee member and Councillor Peter Grellman presented Access Awards to Jill Funnell from House of Fashion and Julie Lancaster from the West Wyalong Medical Centre.

Both businesses were recipients of Bland Shire Council Access Incentive grants during 2015. House of Fashion received a grant to install a portable ramp to its Main Street premises while the Medical Centre intends to install automatic doors for easy patient access to its new premises in Main Street.

Councillor Peter Grellman also addressed the gathering to touch on some of the matters faced by people who experience access issues and reminded community members of the importance of keeping access related matters at the forefront of their minds. He further praised the ongoing efforts of the Bland Shire Access Advisory Committee and thanked all members for their tireless and continuing efforts in advocating for the needs of people with access issues.

House of Fashion award  Medical Centre Access Award