Alkham Valley Community Project
The AVCP provides carriage driving, horse riding and horticulture for disabled and disadvantaged adults and children to promote their health and well being.
We also welcome young carers and families supporting a disabled relative, along with children who are having difficulties with their lives. Other participants include Day Centre clients, adults who access services, children in the care of Local Authorities, groups from Mencap and disabled students from Canterbury College.
The AVCP provides training for young people who have not been able to achieve at mainstream school, and our volunteers. We received an award of excellence from Rural Revival in 2004.
The AVCP provides safe and well supervised interaction with equines.
We run a Junior Carriage Driving Group where able bodied and disabled children enjoy the sport together regardless of physical abilities. Ambition is encouraged and some members compete at either an open level or at events specifically organised for the disabled.
We provide the time and the facilities to enable clients with special needs to enjoy work experience. We also offer western riding and encourage participants to care in a hands-on manner for our team of Shetland ponies and kind, reliable horses. The AVCP runs a Saddle Club for children on Saturdays and school holidays.
It is recognised that horse riding, the rhythmic physical movement of the horse, has a positive therapeutic effect on the physical health and emotional wellbeing of the disabled rider sitting on top. The rider often shows an improvement in balance, coordination, flexibility and muscle strength. Those with mental health issues or emotional disabilities often benefit enormously from horse riding through the relationship formed with the horse. The activity of riding promotes self esteem, patience and builds self confidence.
Carriage driving is an activity which requires team work, the ability to take instruction and promotes a sense of responsibility towards others. There is often an improvement in spatial awareness and coordination. Concentration skills are improved as the horse instantly reflects any loss of attention from the driver. The sense of freedom gained by the easy movement of the horse and the chance to trot freely whilst driving in comfort in the carriage is greatly appreciated by the driver whose own movements and physical stamina may be greatly compromised.