Therapeutic horseback riding has proven to relieve depression and improve overall mental health, affecting more Delta residents during the COVID-19 pandemic and those with mental and physical ability issues in more intense ways. Educational activities, provided by Delta-based Pony Pals Therapeutic Riding Association (PPTRA), involves specially trained horses and therapists in helping people with mental illness, children and youth and persons with disabilities. PPTRA will be able to respond to the growing need for this form of therapy during the pandemic with the support of $5,370 from the Delta Foundation, for its Equine Facilitated Mental Health (EFMH) Program for Covid-19 Vulnerable Populations.
 
PPTRA provides the people of Delta, Surrey, Burnaby, New Westminster and White Rock, with therapeutic horseback riding services and equine assisted therapies to promote physical, psychological, developmental and social well being of clients of all ages. Clients learn stress coping and reduction, interacting in a physically and socially safe way, in real time, fostering a normalized shared therapeutic experience, increasing acceptance, self-esteem, equality, access, safe social interaction and well-being.
 
The funding for the grant comes from the Emergency Community Support Fund (ECSF), to support charities for vulnerable populations, hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn. The emergency community funding is administered across the country by Community Foundations of Canada on behalf of the Government of Canada, along with two other networks, United Way and Red Cross. This Round 2 of funding follows Round 1 of the ECSF campaign completed in July.
 
The vulnerable populations served through PPTRA need social inclusion, mental health intervention and support, skill-building, safety, problem-solving, and to establish a sense of well-being and connection. The project aims to:
1. reduce acute and chronic mental health and well being impacts on participants and team members;
2. create volunteer opportunities and jobs for representatives of the community served while learning how to safely reintegrate into the new reality of Covid-19;
3. engage team and participants in physical and social activity in an inclusive and supportive environment.
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