A Langley organization is turning 50 this year.
Pacific Riding for Developing Abilities (PRDA) is celebrating a landmark year and staff and volunteers are launching a capital campaign to mark the occasion.
The campaign will make two major improvements to its South Langley location, said director of operations Erin Julihn.
Originally known as Pacific Riding for the Disabled Association, the non-profit society changed its name 22 years ago to reflect more accurately what they do to help its clients.
“Through therapeutic horseback riding and other equine assisted therapies, PRDA supports clients in achieving their individual goals,” Julihn explained.
“We use a strength centered approach, aiming to see and utilize the unique abilities of each person as we work together to enhance their quality of life,” she added.
Because of the special anniversary, PRDA decided that the time was perfect to undertake a capital campaign.
The goal is to raise $120,000 in order to make two main facility upgrades.
One is a special indoor viewing lounge for the caregivers who accompany the PRDA riders. Described as a warm welcoming waiting area, the lounge will be a big improvement, according to Julihn.
“Caregivers play an integral role in supporting each of our clients,” she said.
“For the safety of our riders, caregivers must remain on the property, often waiting in vehicles or out in the cold. The new viewing lounge will allow caregivers to view therapeutic riding sessions form a safe environment that protects them from the elements,” Julihn explained.
The lounge will be called Lacey’s Lounge in honour of one of PRDA’s therapy horses who recently passed away after 15 years of service at PRDA.
In addition to providing therapeutic riding, PRDA offers equine assisted clinical counselling and because of this, a warm and safe environment is necessary and Lacey’s Lounge will provide just that, Julihn elaborated.
Another improvement will be a rider and volunteer reception area.
Clients who attend PRDA have a broad spectrum of diverse abilities including neurological and physical diversities. Considering this, having clear, easy transitional spaces is critical, Julihn said, noting that w\With the current set up, a peaceful clear transition from the outdoors to the indoor riding arena is somewhat problematic.
“Currently clients must transition from the outdoors, directly into a working barn, through another space to put on riding safety equipment and then to the riding arena. The new reception area will clarify and simplify the entire process,” explained Julihn.
With this addition, it will make things far easier for both the rider and the PRDA volunteer, she insisted.
Part of this addition will benefit PRDA’s volunteers, as well.
At present, there is no dedicated space for volunteer’s belongings and while PRDA has done its best to accommodate volunteers, there simply was no space, said executive director Michelle Ingall.
“Volunteers are the backbone of PRDA. We look forward to providing them with a dedicated space that will meet their needs while they are being of service,” Ingall added.
PRDA is located on a 15-acre property in south Langley, which borders Campbell Valley Park.
Unlike other facilities of this type, PRDA owns the property – bought in 2000 thanks to a legacy gift from Phae Collins.
“PRDA’s ownership of the property ensures we will be able to serve the diverse ability community for years to come!” Ingall enthused.
“As the needs of our clients change, we are free to adapt the facilities to be of best service,” added Julihn, noting PRDA provides programming year round, which is – in part – why the improvements are needed.
Many of the PRDA volunteers have been part of the organization for years.
One such volunteer is Penny King, who is marking 30+ years this year. She cites her love of horses, people, and giving back to the community as reasons for her long service.
“You always get more than you give, and I love the interaction with the other volunteers, the clients and the staff,” King said.
“It’s always a good day when I volunteer,” she added with a smile.
There will be numerous events held during the coming year, including the 28th annual Phae Collins Memorial Horse Show on Sunday, June 11. This yearly event provides equestrian riders with the opportunity to experience the challenge and thrill of competition in a supportive and safe environment.
Other events planned this year include a PRDA pub night fundraiser and the 50th anniversary gala on Nov. 4.
For more information or to donate, people can visit www.prda.ca, or contact Erin at 604-530-8717 ext. 106.
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