Jean Robertson (Blue Feather Counselling), Caitriona O'Meara (Teacher) and Mia Cullen (Student)
Students at Piper’s Hill college in Naas are learning through horses.
The school is changing the environment of the classroom from inside to outside and adding some equine input.
Teacher Caitriona O’Meara explains: “As part of the SPHE (social personal and health education) subject, the students are learning communication skills, teambuilding, problem solving, confidence building, leadership, resilience and decision making outside with the horses.” However, both the students and horses needed space, so construction company Ballymore were approached to help. “The project needed support from the community so I approached Ballymore who own the land adjacent to the school to see if they would let us use it for this purpose and (two representatives) Don McMahon and Liam Flynn were more than accommodating. They cut the grass, put up fencing and gave us access to the paddock,” she added.
Equine-assisted learning has been taught since 2012 with PHC students, initially at Edenderry and then on a nearby location near Broadfield, Naas. All activities are done on the ground and there is no riding.
“Logistics were becoming a problem, so the existence of the paddock beside the school meant that students could walk out the door, into the paddock, have their SPHE class and go back inside. The range of learning that the students had was very encouraging,” added Ms. O’Meara. More students will be involved later this year.