MORE than 100 students from schools in Swindon and Wiltshire were recognised for their achievements during a special ceremony at racehorse charity Greatwood.

The organisation near Marlborough helps disadvantaged children and those with special educational needs, using horses to help them improve their physical, emotional, cognitive and social skills.

Upwards of 2,000 people from Wiltshire and surrounding counties have benefited since 2006.

One parent said: “This has been a fantastic experience for Alfie. It has enabled him to unmask and he is authentic self when at Greatwood. It has provided much needed respite to his school week, in turn it has had such a positive impact on his social emotional mental health.”

Another added: “My son has loved every minute of his time at Greatwood. It has helped with his confidence and self-esteem. He has a sense of self-worth from helping with the animals.”

Students from Lawn Manor, Ridgeway, Pewsey Vale, Mountford Manor, Five Lanes Primary, Abbeyfield in Chippenham, Churchward School and Amesbury Primary were among those receiving certificates, along with learners referred by Swindon Borough Council, Wiltshire Council, the youth offending team, care leavers team, The Independent Psychology Service and The Harbour Project .

Greatwood uses what it calls a Cycle of Rehabilitation and Change, which means horses helping people and people helping horses. At the same time it gives former racehorses that can’t be re-homed a useful occupation.

Among those helped by the courses are people with autism, ADHD, dyspraxia and dyslexia.

In recent years it has expanded its programmes to include victims of domestic violence, people suffering as a result of trauma and those with mental health difficulties.

Research shows working with animals can help to lower blood pressure, alleviate stress and reduce the symptoms of anxiety or depression.

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