Published Tuesday, 19 March 2013
Donkeys pictured at the Donkey Sanctuary's centre in Templepatrick. (© UTV)
Around 150 children benefit from the Donkey Assisted Therapy centre in Templepatrick, while outreach visits are also made to nursing homes, hospices and care homes.
But now the Donkey Sanctuary is appealing for local people to join their existing team of volunteers.
"We would love to hear from people who would like to get involved with the work of our centre, either by helping with riding therapy or donkey care," centre manager Tina Symington said.
Our volunteers are highly valued members of the team and we couldn't provide the level of service that we offer without them.
The Donkey Sanctuary
The centre aims to use riding therapy to boost children's physical development of fine motor skills, core stability and hand-eye coordination - while also improving self-esteem and confidence.
Sheelagh and Charlie Freely regularly support the work of the Donkey Sanctuary's centre in Templepatrick and spoke about the rewarding experience for volunteers.
"Myself and Charlie have always loved donkeys and, with the centre on our doorsteps, we thought it would be a great opportunity for us to get involved," Sheelagh explained.
"Each week, we give two days of our time to help support the children during riding therapy lessons and are made to feel so welcome."
As well as helping with riding therapy and looking after the donkeys, the centre also has plenty of 'behind-the-scenes' opportunities on offer - from fundraising to assisting with outreach visits.
The Donkey Sanctuary is an international animal welfare charity, which supports projects to alleviate the suffering of donkeys in 27 countries worldwide.